North coast medical cannabis producer and campaigner Tony Bower was sentenced to 12 months jail yesterday on a charge of cultivating cannabis.
Mr Bower appeared in Port Macquarie Local Court before magistrate Thomas Hodgson, who set a nine-month non-parole period to the full-time custodial sentence.
Mr Bower’s lawyers immediately lodged an appeal against the severity of the sentence, and he was released on bail after 30 minutes in custody.
Solicitor Jamie Whitehead said the appeal would be heard in the Port Macquarie District Court on 7 October.
The appearance in Port Macquarie Local Court comes as other states and territories explore ways to make medicinal cannabis available to people suffering life-threatening or terminal illnesses.
Mr Bower, whose company Mullaways Medical Cannabis supplies tincture to more than 150 people, many of them children, was arrested this year for cultivating plants while still on a good behaviour bond from the District Court.
A police helicopter spotted his crop of 72 plants, each marked with a patient’s name, just days before his 12-month good-behaviour bond was due to finish.
He appeared in the Port Macquarie District Court on August 14 for the breach of the bond, and was sentenced to 12 months jail but released immediately on parole.
At that appearance he was described by the judge as ‘not your standard criminal’.
Meanwhile, despite his legal issues, Mr Bower has continued his battle to have medicinal cannabis recognised as a legitimate treatment, and it would appear some jurisdictions are listening.
‘I just wanted to let everyone to know that Mullaways has been contacted by the ACT government to help organise medical cannabis for the suffering in their state,’ he said in a statement.
‘I would like to congratulate the ACT government for their courage to ask for help.’
Other states are also investigating possible trials of medicinal cannabis, as is the federal government.
Just this week Queensland federal MP Warren Entsch announced he is drafting a bill which he hopes to introduce to parliament in the coming fortnight.
The bill would pave the way for legal trials of cannabis to treat people with cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Mr Entsch told ABC radio on Tuesday that if the trials are successful, he would introduce further legislation to fully legalise the drug for medical purposes and make it available ‘like any other life-saving or life-enhancing drugs’.
In NSW, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson plans to introduce a private member’s bill in support of medical marijuana possibly at the next state parliamentary sitting in September.
NSW premier Mike Baird, deputy premier Andrew Stoner and opposition leader John Robertson have all given their provisional support for the bill.
In Victoria, Labor wants to legalise cannabis oil for the treatment of conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said this week that cannabis should be available for people who needed treatment in exceptional circumstances, but he ruled out legalising marijuana for recreational use.
The Australian HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) Party has also announced a plan to run in the Victorian state election on November 29.
A series of rallies is being organised across the country on September 14 in support of making cannabis oil available for treatment of life-threatening and terminal illnesses.