Judge flags legal side-effect from medical marijuana
A DISTRICT Court judge in Gympie has flagged an unexpected legal side effect of medical marijuana.
Judge Glen Cash said courts may have less sympathy for people growing marijuana illegally for medical purposes, as a result of the increasing legal availability of medical marijuana.
The judge also said all drug production was commercial to the extent that even if grown for personal purposes, it had a financial benefit, saving the grower money and allowing more for other discretionary spending.
Judge Cash was commenting during the sentencing of Cooloola Cove man Wayne Allen Bettison, who was found with marijuana in quantity and more than 300 plants at his home.
Bettison, 59, pleaded guilty in the Gympie court last week to producing and possessing marijuana.
Bettison's barrister Simone Bain said Bettison suffered ongoing depression and painful complications from the amputation below the knee of his leg, after an accident.
She said Bettison's best friend of 27 years suffered from throat and tonsil cancer and had lost a lot of weight as a result of chemo therapy.
Bettison was growing marijuana also for him, to try to "build up his appetite to try to help him put weight back on."
Judge Cash said the offending occurred a while ago" but "it's only towards the end of last year and early this year, and there is a medicinal cannabis program.
"Courts are going to be less and less tolerant of submissions that criminal activity has been engaged in for the assistance of someone's partner (for medical reasons)."
After coming to Queensland, Bettison had suffered an injury in a fall which damaged an artery behind the knee, Ms Bain said.
"This led to problems with circulation, which led to ulceration which eventually could not be treated.
After living with pain for three years he felt he was addicted to morphine.
Doctors had amputated and Bettison was left with pain and psychological issues."
Bettison had started to grow marijuana after finding he could not afford to buy it anymore, when his income dropped after losing his job.
She said Bettison had a relatively decent past.
Judge Cash told Bettison he would be sentenced for producing marijuana and possessing it, as well as possessing drug utensils.
"In March this year, police visited your house and found a large number of cannabis plants.growing as well as amounts of dried loose cannabis.
"You admitted to the growing and possessing of cannabis."
"You are a mature person who frankly ought to know much better.
"Whilke the offences warrant a period of imprisonment, I's persuaded not to send you to jail today.
"Whether or not you go to jail in future will depend entirely on you.
"If you commit any offence punishable by imprisonment in the next three years, you will be brought back to court.
"You can expect on that occasion to be imprisoned."
Judge Cash sentenced Bettison to 12 months, suspended immediately for an operational period of three years.
"So you cannot commit any offence punishable by imprisonment in the next three years or you will be brought back to court," he said.