Cannabis dealer can keep farm
The Crown had applied for the 107ha property in Thorpe-Orinoco Rd to be forfeited after wood merchant Graham Donald Sturgeon, 50, was found guilty by a jury in July 2005 of 13 charges. These involved cultivating cannabis at the property between 1997 and 2002, selling cannabis to people over 18, possessing cannabis for supply, money laundering and possessing offensive weapons.
Sturgeon, a former Nelson Bays representative rugby player, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in September 2005, and is now out of jail.
In a written decision, Judge David McKegg dismissed the solicitor-general's application, saying forfeiting Sturgeon's property would cause undue hardship to him, his partner, and to Sturgeon's father, who planned to eventually move to the farm with his wife so they could have some oversight because of physical disability.
``The impact on Mr Sturgeon at 50 years of age of being deprived of his home, his future livelihood and his only asset is, in my view, distinctly out of the ordinary,'' Judge McKegg said.
``In submissions, it is put to me that such an order could force a man who is capable of supporting himself and his wife into a state dependence circumstance and would be a disruption to the entire family.''
Sturgeon bought the property which includes a two-bedroom home and farm buildings in 1991 for $145,000, and worked hard to develop it. 4MORE SEE Local News - The Nelson Mail - Printable
[see also 'five years for his clandestine trade' Stuff.co.nz September 3rd 2005]
While people were looking up to Orinoco man Graham Donald Sturgeon as an example to youth and a "pillar of the community", the former leading sportsman was secretly growing and dealing in drugs. Now, he's been sent to prison for five years for his clandestine trade.
Sturgeon, 47, a wood merchant, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court on Thursday on 13 charges a jury found him guilty of in July. They were three counts of cultivating cannabis, two of selling cannabis, a charge of possessing cannabis for sale, two charges of possessing offensive weapons - two loaded semi-automatic rifles - and five counts of money laundering. Judge David McKegg sentenced Sturgeon to five years' prison and ordered that $20,000 found by police in a freezer at his Orinoco home be forfeited, Full Forfeit....
This man would otherwise be conducting his farming practices as per normal if it wasn't for prohibition.
It is a myth that legalised cannabis would encourage dealers to move onto other criminal activities.
Indeed... this is but one more arrest statistic that speaks of prohibitions failure. The perverse claims by Police 'forfeiture' by over over stating the values 'only created by prohibition' such vociferous assertions bring the Police into disrepute. There are 500,000 cannabis consumers and many other libertarian minded folk who in all likely hood say Sturgeon's a hero. He faces the same kind of risks that confronted Tony Stanlake (hence the precautionary weapons, not required at bottle stores or dairy's selling cigarettes) so see this, amongst many other things about this case for the absurdity it is.
Besides, how can property be guilty of anything?
No wonder the Judge saw the bigger picture. However, it is still double jeopardy and that doesn't make it right.