Lawyer decries ‘waste of time’ charge for possession of ‘mouldy ganja’
From the Courts, News
August 25, 2023

Lawyer decries ‘waste of time’ charge for possession of ‘mouldy ganja’

A lawyer has called his client’s charge a waste of time after a carpenter was brought to court for being in possession of mouldy ganja that even “rats would refuse.”

“That has no value. If you put that in a rat’s nest, rat would refuse that. That can’t smoke, that can’t make wine, there’s no purpose,” lawyer Grant Connell told the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, August 22, where his client Joel McLean had pleaded guilty to having in his possession 6,356 grammes of cannabis on August 17, 2023 at Stubbs with intent to supply to another.

According to the facts read in court, on Thursday, August 17 around 1:30 am officers from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were on duty in Stubbs.

They went to McLean’s home and after showing him a search warrant, McLean consented to the search.

While searching in the kitchen, PC1114 Roberts found two white plastic buckets. He opened the buckets in the presence of McLean and in them he found material resembling cannabis.

When McLean was informed of the offence and cautioned by the officers, he replied, “Officer, is to smoke and sell.” He was arrested.

Defence counsel Connell submitted that McLean had no previous convictions, assisted the authorities with their investigations and is gravely remorseful for his actions and he was kept in custody overnight.

Connell further asked the court to discharge the matter as the cannabis is useless with the mould that is in it.

“It baffles me that two police would waste time, carry that at the police station, fill out all the forms, process the man, feed him…breakfast, bring him to court…[for this matter],” Connell continued.

Prosecutor Coreen Samuel submitted for a fine of $7000, if the Magistrate chose to impose one. This number was determined by multiplying the 14 lbs of cannabis by $500; an equation often used by the Serious Offences Court(SOC).

However, Connell found that the price was too heavy for the 34-year-old to pay considering his income, and unreasonable considering the poor quality of the substance.

“You’re going to punish this man because of the value…and the prosecution can stand with all conscience…having looked at the piece of bush with mould, [and] value [it] $500?” Connell questioned.

However, the magistrate told Counsel that he is not going to set any precedent by reprimanding and discharging on something with such a pungent smell, so he referred to the guidelines to begin his sentencing.

After considering the aggravating and mitigating factors and the quantity of the drug, Ballah reduced the $7000 fine to $6,400.

The magistrate then considered McLean’s guilty plea, and reduced his sentence by 1/3 which is equivalent to $2,133. This brought the final fine to $4,267 to be paid by June 22, 2024, which, if he defaults, will result in nine months imprisonment.