Charge against medicinal cannabis advocate adjourned

Charge against medicinal cannabis advocate adjourned

Tony Bower (left), Director and founder of Mullaway's Medical Cannabis holds a vial of cannabis tincture as he is joined by supporters from the Nimbin Hemp Embassy protesting outside N.S.W State Parliament in Sydney. Mr Bower faces court today charged with breaching a good behaviour bond. (AAP image)

Darren Coyne

A charge against medicinal cannabis advocate Tony Bower of Kempsey was adjourned until August 14 in the Port Macquarie District Court today.

Mr Bower faces going back to jail for growing plants to make cannabis tincture for patients across the northern rivers and Australia.

He supplies about 150 people with his tincture, from children suffering epilepsy to cancer patients dealing with nausea from chemotherapy.

He does not charge for the medicine.

Despite registering his company, Mullaways Medical Cannabis, and applying for a licence to operate from the NSW government, his application has been mired in bureaucracy and political indecision for more than five years.

Last year he was charged by police with possessing about 200 cannabis plants and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Although his tincture, crafted from his own specially-bred variety of cannabis called Cleverman, is not believed to be illegal, growing the plants to make the medicine is still a crime in NSW.

After serving six weeks inside, the sentence was overturned on appeal in the Port Macquarie District Court, and he was placed on a 12-month good-behaviour bond.

But just days before that bond was completed, Mr Bower was arrested again after a police helicopter spotted his crop of 72 plants, each marked with a patient’s name.

That cultivation charge will be heard in Port Macquarie magistrate’s court on 28 August, but today he faced the District Court for the alleged breach of his bond – of not being of ‘good behaviour’.

Mr Bower, an Aboriginal man who found early in life that cannabis could ease the pains associated with a motorcycle accident, is unrepentant.

His solicitor Jamie Whitehead said the matter was adjourned because the prosecution did not have documents that had been requested by the defence.

Mr Whitehead said the District Court matter would probably not be finalised until October, with a pre-sentence report expected to be ordered at the next appearance.

He said the support for Mr Bower had been overwhelming.

‘We have received literally thousands (of character references). People have been great,’ he said.

Meanwhile, NSW Premier Mike Baird last week came out in support of medicinal cannabis after meeting Lucy Haslam and her 24-four year-old son Daniel, who is battling cancer.

Mr Baird said while he supported medicinal cannabis he was still concerned about the supply issues.

Those issues will be debated in a month when Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson introduces a private member’s bill into parliament.

It will be tabled in two parts: the first allowing terminally ill patients to avoid prosecution if they are caught with 15 grams or less of the drug and the second dealing with the issue of supply.

Mr Baird last week said that supply remained an issue.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said however that the region’s network of growers and suppliers should be utilised, not ignored.

‘They [the government] can’t accept that it’s been happening for 40 years. We have all of these growers with so much expertise and yet they want to farm it off to pharmaceutical companies,’ Mr Balderstone said.

Queensland’s ultra-conservative premier Campbell Newman has also called on federal health authorities to investigate the possible trial of medicinal cannabis.

Meanwhile, in America, the domino effect of more than 20 states legalising medicinal cannabis (with some going so far as to recognise its recreational use) has been applauded by advocates.

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