Column

Title: Is it safe to grow 5 marijuana plants in your house for medicinal use only?

Written by: André Beckers

Recently I had to defend a man who had 5 marijuana plants in his house for medicinal use. This man had had a severe car accident and had heavy chronicle pains. He had a shattered foot and a severe back injury. These injuries controlled his life. When it comes to pain relief Dutch doctors use a pain ladder. At first a patient will be prescribed medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. When this medication doesn’t help, a patient will be prescribed opiates. A substance that is known as a strong opiate is OxyContin. In the United States a lot of people are hopelessly addicted to this substance. For that reason OxyContin is also known as ‘hillbilly Heroin’.
The doctor prescribed my client to take a number of these pills a day against the pain. Even though it helped, it made his social functioning impossible. He discovered that the use of cannabis infused tea had a better effect on him. He could control his pain and was able to maintain his social contacts. Because of his limitations he had an adapted job. He didn’t earn enough to buy cannabis. Cannabis prescribed by a doctor wasn’t an option. The pharmacy was too expensive because the health insurance doesn’t cover the costs of cannabis prescribed by the doctor. My client decided to take matters in his own hands and cultivate the cannabis himself.
After being advised by a shopkeeper he bought 5 assimilation lights, 600 watt each. He also bought an extraction, a carbon filter, ventilators and 5 big plant pots. This is how he cultivated 5 cannabis plants. When it was on the national news that the mayor of Tilburg showed clemency for people who cultivate cannabis for medicinal use, he felt supported. He thought that nothing could happen to him. He paid for the electricity that he had used for the plantation. But then events took a turn for the worse. The police had discovered his cannabis plantation. He explained his medical situation to the police and proved that his doctor supported the use of cannabis infused tea. In his conversation with the police he mentioned that he wanted to share his cannabis infused tea with friends of his that were in a similar situation. The police wrote out a police rapport. In the police rapport the police officer stated that he came across a professional cannabis plantation.
The police advised the mayor to close the house of my client for a fixed period. The police also informed the landlord. After hearing my clients story the mayor decided not to close the house.
The landlord was less sympathetic. The landlord terminated the contract, which made it necessary to seek a ruling by a judge. Thanks to my colleague Joanna McKernan, who was also so kind to translate this column for me, The Court ruled that even though the plants were grown with technical aids, the method of cultivation is not decisive. The Court ruled that in this case there weren’t sufficient grounds to terminate the lease contract, this to my clients delight (and also that of our office).
The next hurdle was the criminal prosecution. The prosecutor had decided to offer my client community service. I accompanied my client and we had a conversation with the prosecutor. The prosecutor provided a listening ear and proposed that he would not offer my client a transaction, but first he wanted to overthink the case. After a while the prosecutor came to the conclusion that a conditional dismissal of the case would be sufficient. The prosecutor was of the opinion that he was allowed to prosecute my client because he had confessed to not just cultivating the cannabis for medicinal use. My client bowed to this decision.
Is everything okay in the end? I don’t think so. If this poor man decides to cultivate cannabis again, there is a chance that he will lose his house. He will also risk community service. To tolerate his pain he must use opiates. He must take the fact that he will be less sociable for granted. What remains of our liberal Netherlands? In numerous American states cultivation of medicinal cannabis had been legalized. On this topic we aren’t a pioneer any more. As a matter of fact we are hopelessly behind. Our country is less cool than that eternally smiling person would like us to believe during the political campaigns. It is about time that the politicians rigorously change our policy on drugs.
Translated by Joanna McKernan. Joanna works as a Lawyer for the law firm Beckers & Bergmans in Sittard. She is a native English speaker. Joanna has a lot of experience in cannabis related civil cases.

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