No conviction for farmer who used cannabis oil for illness
A LISMORE Magistrate has spoken of the difficulties of accessing medicinal cannabis after a farmer landed in hot water for growing his own.
Jiggi farmer Jeremy Clifford Shand faced Lismore Local Court yesterday charged with cultivating a prohibited plant, two counts of possessing a prohibited drug and not keeping a firearm safely.
Police issued the 54-year-old with a court attendance notice for the offences on Friday, February 16.
Lawyer Stephen Gerrish lodged pleas of guilty to the charges and noted his client's firearms charge was the most serious.
Mr Shand had left his gun - used to tackle an ongoing wild dog problem - in a locked room in his house.
Mr Gerrish said his client had been using the firearm to protect his cattle, and a $15,000 prize bull from the wild dogs which had been plaguing his property.
"It was in a locked room... but it wasn't where it should have been," Mr Gerrish said.
"It is a serious matter."
Mr Gerrish said his client's illness had likely contributed to his failure to lock the gun away in its safe before he went to a doctor's appointment.
He said Mr Shand's debilitating illness had led him to try cannabis oil.
The court heard Mr Shand's brother had used cannabis oil before he lost his battle with cancer in 2014.
Mr Shand, suffering post traumatic stress disorder from a young age and more recently battling Q Fever, had experienced ill effects from traditional medication, Mr Gerrish said.
"Medication... made him sick," Mr Gerrish said.
"His quality of his life had suffered so badly that he decided to try (cannabis oil)."
He said Mr Shand, a "hard-working farmer all his life", admitted to having grown the cannabis and making his own oil infusion from the plants but regretted breaking the law.
He said those wanting to access legitimate medicinal cannabis must endure a "complicated" application process.
Magistrate David Heilpern acknowledged Mr Shand's illnesses and the "ongoing wild dog problem that was proving expensive".
"I grew up on a cattle property with the same problem and it's extremely distressing watching your stock getting torn to bits," Mr Heilpern said.
"I take firearms offences very seriously, particularly (those involving) not securing them properly.
"You were using (cannabis oil) for medical purposes to deal with long standing PTSD and debilitating illness.
"You weren't using it for recreational purposes."
Mr Heilpern gave Mr Shand a two-year good behaviour bond and spared him a conviction.