Law Before Justice: Published letter
Source: The Argus, Worthing, UK
Pub Date: Tuesday 13 January 2003
Pub LTE: Law Before Justice
Author: Alun Buffry
Ref: Cannabis Cafes: http://www.ccguide.org/cannabiscafes.php
LAW BEFORE JUSTICE
I recently attended the sentencing of Chris Baldwin at Chichester Crown Court ("Pro-cannabis trader jailed", The Argus, January 10).
I was confused that Mr Baldwin was being sent to prison after what amounted to a glowing summation of his character.
The Judge described him as "honest", "sincere", with a "genuine belief in his medical need for cannabis after 30 years of suffering ... and honest commitment to try to persuade the Government to change the law".
He said the cannabis cafes managed by Mr Baldwin were run with strict rules (age restrictions, no alcohol or hard drugs), caused no nuisance to locals and were politically-driven rather money-orientated.
Judge Sessions also referred to the other two co-defendants (Winston Matthews and Mark Benson) as sincere with a genuine belief in the medicinal value of cannabis for their pain. They were given suspended sentences and curfew respectively.
However, Mr Baldwin was already on a suspended sentence for previous victimless cannabis offences and it seemed the judge felt his hands were tied by the law and he was forced to bring that sentence into effect, although reducing it.
That just about sums up the case - the interests of the law are apparently above the interests of the public and of justice.
How can it be just to send to prison an honest and sincere crippled man who not only has no victims to his so-called crimes, but has a massive amount of support from those in pain who he helped gain some relief beyond that provided by conventional pharmaceutical drugs?
There is something wrong not only with the law against cannabis but with the legal system in general when law comes before justice.
-Alun Buffry, Norwich