Campaigners for the use of medicinal cannabis are outraged over a one year jail sentence given to a prominent north coast grower of the herb when he appeared in Kempsey Court yesterday.
Supporters of Tony Bower, 56, who is being held in custody despite lodging an appeal against the sentence, which carries a nine month non-parole period, say they will continue his work dispensing medicinal cannabis to cancer sufferers and others with terminal or debilitating illnesses.
Mr Bower was charged after a police raid on his Mullaway property last year, which netted around 200 hemp plants that he had earmarked for production of medical tincture to distribute, free, to sufferers.
His partner Julie told Echonetdaily that she and others attending the court in solidarity were shocked he was not given bail after magistrate Wayne Evans said Mr Bower was not remorseful and would continue to give away the tincture.
An appeal date has been set down for June 3.
Possession, growing and distribution of cannabis is illegal in NSW but a NSW Upper House inquiry is currently considering legalising the drug for medicinal use.
Spokesman for the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Embassy in Nimbin, Michael Balderstone, said Mr Bower’s supporters had promised to continue his work.
Mr Balderstone said Mr Bower was now unlikely to attend Nimbin’s 21st annual cannabis law reform rally, the MardiGrass, on the first weekend of May, where he had been expected to speak.
Mr Balderstone said the news had upset a lot of people in the village.
‘Tony does nothing but good for poor and sick people. It has fired up the protest because we all know him personally, some of us for a long time, and he is such a genuine fellow,’ he said.
‘Tony is a self taught healer who American medical cannabis experts talk to for advice. He is one in a million, a modern day medicine man.
‘He distributes free his medical cannabis tincture to hundreds of sufferers. Many have cancer, but there are also many other sicknesses that Tony treats, like Crohn’s disease.
‘For these people nothing else works. Many of his patients were crying outside the court yesterday.
‘We urge everyone who understands how shameful the cannabis laws are and the suffering they are causing to come and voice their concern and express their outrage at MardiGrass, the weekend after next. It’s time the laws changed.’
Mr Bower appeared on a popular television program in Queensland a few weeks ago in a story showing that his tincture had stopped a seven year old child from having her (Dravet Syndrome) epileptic fits.
Mr Balderstone said that since the program aired, the HEMP Embassy has been inundated with phone calls ‘and people have been driving for hours to get here just in the hope of getting some of Tony’s medicine’.
‘The girl featured on the program had been suffering from debilitating seizures since she was six weeks old. Surely no one would want to stop her getting such relief?’
Mr Balderstone urged people to see the footage for themselves:
Mr Bower has been supplying free tincture to several hundred patients, most with cancer, for several years now and has applied for a licence with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
His crop was taken by police as it was about to be harvested.
Mr Balderstone said, ‘we desperately need some decent politician to put medical cannabis on the agenda because the word is out about the healing powers of this plant.
‘It’s not just hippies talking now, it’s the internet. Since half of America now has legal medical cannabis there are stories emerging daily of, not miracle cures, but cannabis cures. It has become an extremely unpleasant job for the volunteers at the HEMP Embassy having to tell these people we cannot help them.
‘Every plant the police took from the Mullaways medical crop was labelled for a patient, every patient has a doctor’s letter.
‘He’s written countless letters and applications in years of trying to get a sane hearing.
‘Tony promises his work will go on regardless and as more and more people take advantage of the knowledge on the internet on making your own tincture, it’s hard to argue with him.’
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