Kaohsiung District Court judges on Monday issued a suspended sentence and five years’ probation to a man convicted of contravening the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例) by importing cannabis and cannabis products and imposed a hefty fine.
A Kaohsiung resident surnamed Cheng (鄭) was found to have purchased cannabis products from overseas online 14 times, having the items mailed to his Fongshan District (鳳山) home between January 2016 and April 2017.
After one of the packages was intercepted by authorities, prosecutors conducted a raid of his residence in April 2017, where dried cannabis, cannabis products, an electronic scale and correspondence with cannabis exporters in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic was found.
Cannabis is classified as a Category 2 narcotic under the act.
Cheng pleaded guilty, but argued that the burns to his limbs, head and neck sustained in a January 2016 gas explosion at the restaurant where he worked had left in him in chronic pain and unable to work.
Court officials confirmed he was severely burned in the explosion, and doctors certified that he had suffered from chronic pain, even after recovering from skin graft surgery.
Cheng told the court that prescribed painkillers such as Fentanyl and Tramadol had not eased his pain, but cannabis had alleviated it.
The judges checked with Kaohsiung Medical University researchers, who provided written confirmation that “research results from Canada, the UK and Australia had found medical cannabis was effective in reducing pains in patients,” the verdict said.
The judges found that Cheng had purchased small amounts of cannabis solely to alleviate his pain, and given his medical condition, they decided to sentence him to two years in prison, suspended for five years, which means that he would be on probation for five years.
They fined him NT$220,000 and also ordered him to complete 240 hours of community service and four legal education sessions.
The judges’ verdict was the first ruling in the case and it can still be appealed.
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