Cannabis Campaigners' Guide News Database result:
UK: Pro-cannabis campaigner fails to overturn prison sentence (Winston Matthews)
Monday 26 Mar 2012
Winston Matthews, 55, was handed a 10-month sentence at Guildford Crown Court on February 6 after he admitted producing, cultivating and possessing the drug - which he insists is his only relief from chronic back pain and hepatitis C.
Scores of cannabis plants had been found growing at his home in Upfield Close, Horley, by police and Matthews was also given another six months for breaching the terms of an earlier suspended sentence - making a total 16-month term.
Matthews, a former member of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), stood for election as MP for East Surrey in 2005 however few voters shared his pro-cannabis stance and he finished in last place with 410 votes.
At London's Appeal Court on Thursday (March 22), his barrister, Ben Cooper, argued the sentence did not take enough account of his troubled background and the fact he was using cannabis to "self-medicate" in the privacy of his own home.
The barrister said Matthews had "stood for Parliament on a cannabis footing" and had been using the drug to deal with his pain for many years. Mentally and physically dependent on the drug, prison was "extremely hard" on him, the court heard.
Mr Cooper added that Matthews, who fractured his spine in a workplace accident when he was just 16, never supplies cannabis to anyone else, grows his own to avoid drug dealers and every leaf he cultivates is for his own personal use.
He found cannabis "far more effective" in relieving his pain than conventional medicines and, having turned his back on other substance abuse, "only uses cannabis because he wants to live a pain free life.
"He was using cannabis on a fairly large scale on a daily basis but he simply cultivates enough plants to keep him going", he told Mr Justice Haddon-Cave.
He does not qualify for prescription of cannabis-based drugs often given to multiple sclerosis sufferers and needs specialist help to "break his cycle of offending", Mr Cooper added.
However, refusing to release Matthews on bail or grant him permission to appeal, the judge said he had indicated at the Crown Court that he "would continue to cultivate cannabis come hell or high water".
Observing that Matthews is "something of a campaigner in this regard", the judge added: "He is a recidivist and he's not above the law just because he has personal reasons for using it".
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