(The UK's daft cannabis laws... )
The UK still prosecutes people for possession of tiny amounts of cannabis. Urban75 questions the costs and logic behind criminalising citizens when they are causing no negative impact on society. This true story illustrates the stupidity of the current laws:
"In the summer bank holiday of 1997 me and some friends were in a town centre pub. The police had seen on TV cameras, that monitor the town centre, someone throw a bucket of water over a female member of staff from the pub. The police were called to the scene and they arrested myself and another person.
They said we were being arrested for a breach of the peace and on being taken to the police vehicle I was searched and found to have in my possession a very small quantity of cannabis.
I was conveyed to Blackburn police station where I was again searched. I was then placed in a cell and after several hours I was taken to an interview room. I was interviewed about the incident with the water which I explained was just in fun as I know the landlady and it had been a hot day.
I was then interviewed about the cannabis which I had admitted at the beginning was for my own use. I was also asked who had supplied me with the cannabis which I refused to answer.
Later that day I was released from Blackburn police station and told I was being reported for the offence of breach of the peace and possession of a small amount of cannabis. I was bailed to appear back at Blackburn police station - which I did - the charge of breach of the peace was withdrawn on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service but the police said I was to be charged with possession of cannabis.
I asked if there was any chance of my having a caution as I have never been in trouble with the police for drugs offences - this was refused.
When I made my first appearance at Blackburn Magistrates Court the Prosecution asked for the case to be adjourned so they could look into why I had not been given a caution and the same thing also happened on the second appearance. On the third appearance I was informed the case would go ahead.
I elected to go to Crown Court where I thought I would have a fairer chance. By this time it had already appeared in the local newspaper that a man had been bailed for drug offences to appear before the local Magistrate Court - it did not say that it was only a street value of £2.00.
Then I saw some articles in the newspapers and on the TV that an MP's son had been charged with selling drugs to an undercover reporter. This MP turned out to be my MP, Jack Straw.
Jack Straw, after being at the police station, was quoted as saying that his son receiving a caution was a fair outcome as it was his son's first offence for drugs. Well this was also my first offence for drugs and yet I was being taken to Court. This is also another reason why I elected trial at Crown Court.
After several months of going to Court a number of times I went to Crown Court for plea, the judge seemed disgusted at the way the case was going and he asked the Prosecution to look into the case again.
As I had already admitted the cannabis was mine at the first opportunity I was pleading not guilty on the grounds that I felt it was an unjust case and that I should have been treated with a caution, this being so I was not allowed legal aid so I had to represent myself. Again I had wait several months for the case to come to Court.
During this time I was connected to the Internet and I had seen some articles on cannabis legalisation and other articles containing cannabis prohibition.
A couple of days before my trial my legal adviser had been talking in chambers and he told me it looked like the judge was going to direct the Jury to find me guilty as I had already admitted the offence at an earlier stage.
One article I saw on the Internet was about the Magna Carta and Jurors rights and that if a Jury felt a law unjust they could bring a not guilty verdict and that this was happening more and more in America.
It used to happen with the prohibition of alcohol and it was now being used in the prohibition of cannabis and that more and more juries were deciding to acquit the defendants of cannabis cases and this was one of the alleys I was going to use in my case.
On the morning of my trial, before the jury was sworn in, the Judge asked me again to reconsider my guilty plea. I said I wanted to use my right to plead not guilty and the case went ahead and the Jury was sworn in.
I cross examined the police officers who were involved in my case asking what their policy was for cautioning and if they had ever cautioned before and they both seemed to give out a lot of cautions to people on serious drug offences whereas mine was just a small piece to a value of £2.00 I asked why I was not given a caution and they said that a decision had been made to charge me and that was final. The case wasn't looking good for me at all.
During the trial I asked the Judge if I could give some articles to the Jury, he asked me what these were. I told him they were about Jurors rights and the Magna Carta. The Judge adjourned the trial while he looked at these articles and when he returned back to Court he did not seem too pleased and told me not to come into his Court Room with 16th Century laws.
I said as he had already told me that he was going to tell the Jury to find me guilty as I had already admitted the offence I thought it was only fair that the Jury could see that if they thought it was unjust they could bring a not guilty verdict but this request was denied and was not allowed to give out the articles. On summing up the Judge directed the Jury to return a guilty verdict and this is what they did.
When I was found guilty the Judge asked me what my financial circumstances were. He asked me how much my wife earned. As my wife does not even smoke cannabis I thought this to be inappropriate and as I run a very small business money is very tight but he said that I had brought this on myself and that he was going to deal with me by way of a financial punishment and he fined me £1000.
He said if I refused to pay £1000 I would have to do 7 days in prison so now I am waiting to go to Court for non-payment of the fine and to be sent to prison for 7 days for £2.00 of cannabis.
So far I can only guess how much it has cost the tax payers to take me to Court it must be astronomical and then to send me to prison will cost a lot more. They say the prisons are so overcrowded that they have nowhere to put criminals and yet they are still putting people in prison for small amounts of cannabis.
I find this to be a diabolical and disgusting way to use tax payers money especially when Jack Straw's son, whose father is the Home Secretary, who is guilty of selling drugs to a reporter is given a caution and things are forgotten.
Thousands and thousands of people who are using cannabis for medical purposes and people who find it a lot better than alcohol and prescribed medicines/tablets to help relieve stress are being charged and sent to prison for small amounts and are costing the tax payer money in bringing them to justice when we have so much other trouble on our streets.
It is about time that this law was changed and that the Government realised that people are not doing any harm just by smoking cannabis that there is a lot worse things that people could be doing and money should be spent on hardened criminals instead of people who are smoking pot.
By sending me to prison the only people who are going to suffer is my wife and my 5 year old daughter and of course the tax payer. The public are not going to gain anything by me going to prison. The law has got to be changed where people are going to prison for small amounts of cannabis.
I am going to continue to smoke cannabis I think it is my right that if I want to smoke cannabis then I should be able to. I don't believe in all the pharmaceuticals, tamazipans etc etc, that people take each day. I am a believer in what comes from the earth is good for us and that there is a beneficial use.
The Internet has been a great source of information and has spurred me on by meeting, and being encouraged, by other people. I am hoping to start a campaign here in the North West so if anyone would like to get in contact with me they can do so at my E-mail address which is Dave@Natrul.freeserve.co.uk.
This law is already outdated, the more people who join together the more chance there is that we will get this law changed and hopefully in the future people will be able to smoke in their own homes and in the parks if they want to sit down and chill out and also influence great thinkers and like minded people."
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