Tue, Feb 06, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Man acquitted of illegal drug charges after buying cannabis seeds online

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The New Taipei City District Court on Sunday acquitted a man of charges of manufacturing illegal drugs after he imported cannabis seeds into the nation, handing him instead a suspended sentence for illegal importation.

The judge ruled in favor of the defense, who argued that the man, surnamed Chan (詹), had wanted to study the plants, without any intention of consuming or selling them, a court statement said.

Chan said he had in June 2016 purchased NT$15,000 worth of bitcoins to order 40 cannabis seeds through an online site, and in August of that year returned to his hometown in Chiayi County to grow the seeds in a shack on his property, which local police raided three months later.

Finding 12 marijuana seedlings sprouting in pots and many cannabis seeds, the police questioned Chan on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs, the statement said.

Prosecutors eventually filed charges against Chan for intent to manufacture a second-grade narcotic drug — the typical charge when suspects are found to have cultivated marijuana plants — along with a charge for illegal importation of restricted goods.

“I just wanted to observe how marijuana plants grow,” Chan was quoted as saying during the trial. “I planned to write up my findings and post them online.”

Chan had no intention of manufacturing cannabis products for sale, he said.

The judge agreed with the defense and acquitted Chan of “offenses of intent to manufacture a second-grade narcotic drug,” as he had not sold anything, nor was there evidence that he was using the plant, because his lab results were negative, the statement said.

During the raid, police did not find any equipment related to preparing cannabis for drug production, it said.

The cannabis seedlings were numbered and labeled according to their different varieties, with the judge concurring that Chan likely was “only curious, and had wanted to observe the growth stages of cannabis plants,” it said.

Chan was found guilty on “offenses of illegally importing restricted goods,” but only received a six-month sentence, suspended as long as he stays out of legal trouble.

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