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Judge Recognises that Medicinal Cannabis Producers are Not Criminals

The benefits of cannabis medicine are becoming widely accepted within the Australian community. However, laws around the non-profit cultivation of the plant to help the sick continue to carry the same level of criminality as the laws for those who grow it for profit.

But, it appears some magistrates and judges are beginning to make the distinction between an individual who’s making cannabis medicines and those whose suburban hydroponic setup is aimed at profiting from recreational use.

This new understanding was evident as Judge Roy Ellis handed down a sentence to Barry John “BJ” Futter in the Newcastle District Court on 24 October.

Mr Futter was before the court after pleading guilty to one count of cultivating a large commercial quantity of a prohibited plant by enhanced indoor means and one count of drug supply.

The charges arose after a raid was carried out by NSW police at Mr Futter’s Newcastle residence on 1 December 2016, which resulted in the seizure of 215 cannabis plants. The plants were being grown to be distributed without charge to patients registered with the Church of Ubuntu.

The large commercial cultivation charge could have landed Mr Futter – who’s the president of Ubuntu – in prison for up to 20 years. However, the judge saw fit to impose a conditional release order without recording a conviction against Futter’s name, on condition the cannabis medicine advocate enters into a 12 month good behaviour bond.

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