Medicinal cannabis advocate Tony Bower is a free man after being placed on parole for 12 months and described in court as not ‘your standard criminal’.
Mr Bower, whose company Mullaways Medical Cannabis supplies tincture to more than 150 people, many of them children, appeared in Port Macquarie District Court yesterday after an alleged breach of bond conditions.
He was sentenced to 12 months jail but released immediately on parole.
Last year he was charged by police with possessing about 200 cannabis plants and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Although his tincture, crafted from his own specially bred variety of cannabis called Cleverman, is not believed to be illegal, growing the plants to make the medicine is still a crime in NSW.
After Mr Bower served six weeks inside, the sentence was overturned on appeal in the Port Macquarie District Court, and he was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.
Just days before that bond was completed, however, Mr Bower was arrested again after a police helicopter spotted his crop of 72 plants, each marked with a patient’s name.
His court appearance yesterday was in relation to the alleged breach of that good behaviour bond.
He will appear in court again on 28 August in relation to a cultivation charge.
‘The court found my case to be a “unique” one, and that I was “not the standard criminal” and that my intent was not founded on that of criminality but on compassion,’ Mr Bower posted on his Facebook page.
‘This ruling will help with my next upcoming court case… that’s gold!’
His solicitor Jamie Whitehead told Echonetdaily that the judge was ‘extremely sympathetic’ to Mr Bower’s situation.
‘Tony was sentenced to 12 months jail but the judge released him immediately on parole. He was extremely sympathetic to his plight but said he had broken the law,’ Mr Whitehead said.
‘Tony’s over the moon, he’s wrapt with the result,’ Mr Whitehead said.
Mr Whitehead said part of Mr Bower’s defence was that he believed the issue of a licence was imminent.
He said Mr Bower had given an undertaking to the court that he would cease cultivating plants for his tincture until he had a licence to do so.
Demand for cannabis tincture rising
Meanwhile the demand for cannabis tincture is rising.
Echonetdaily reported recently that the Nimbin Hemp Embassy was fielding up to ten calls a day from across Australia from people chasing the product.
Mr Whitehead said Mr Bower’s parole meant he would be unable to continue supplying his product.
‘It’s definitely going to leave a gap in the market,’ he said.
‘From our instruction he’s getting hammered every day by people who are after his tincture,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has overturned the approval of a trial of medicinal cannabis that had been granted by Norfolk Island’s government.
The island’s administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave, vetoed the decision made by Norfolk Island’s authorities.
Earlier this month Norfolk Island gave Tasman Health Cannabinoids (THC) approval to grow medicinal cannabis.
The trial was originally proposed for Tasmania but the state Liberal Government rejected the bid citing concerns over safety and security, as well as potential damage to the state’s lucrative poppy industry.
Tasman Health Cannabinoids CEO Troy Langman told the ABC that he was notified of the decision about the Norfolk Island trial by email.
‘The reasons were exactly the same reasons we were given in Tasmania recently suggesting that we hadn’t addressed all the concerns that the government had,’ he said.
Mr Langman said he would now focus his attention on Tasmania once again.
‘We’ll never give up on Tasmania … Tasmania offers a particular climate that suits important genetics, cultivars or strains that we’d like to grow,” he said.
Tasmania’s shadow attorney general Lara Giddings said the Norfolk Island decision had put more pressure on the governments of Tasmania and Australia to resolve their issues with medicinal cannabis.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone recently told Echonetdaily that the government should utilize the expertise of northern rivers growers and develop a legitimate industry.
Following a fire which destroyed the Nimbin Museum and other buildings this week, Mr Balderstone said he would ‘love’ to see a medicinal cannabis dispensary built on the site.
Demand for tincture has been so great that Hemp Embassy volunteers have been urging people to make their own, selling how-to booklets for $2. The money raised has been going to Mr Bower’s court costs.
Meanwhile, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson is expected to introduce a private member’s bill into parliament this month.
It will be tabled in two parts: the first allowing terminally ill patients to avoid prosecution if they are caught with 15 grams or less of the drug and the second dealing with the issue of supply.