Deb Lynch, the former Secretary and current President of the Medical Cannabis Users Association (MCUA) in Australia was back in court last week for sentencing. In spite of Deb’s constant activism and passion for cannabis, the case was not promising for reform until now.
Deb was arrested earlier this year, when police found cannabis at her home, despite being able to prove that medical cannabis is the only drug that provides relief from a number of conditions she suffers from.
Medical cannabis is supposed to be legal in Australia, however, there are only 153 patients that have been able to get access to it so far.
The Australian medical cannabis system only seems to provide cannabis medication to a limited number of terminally sick patients. While, other terminally ill patients are missing out due to red tape on federal and state level, and there are extended waiting times as a result.
The governing coalition has been accused by the opposition of having ‘blood on their hands’ for limiting access to medical cannabis for patients whose life depends on it, often as the only drug that works.
Morphine and other very dangerous drugs can be authorized and supplied in a day, while medical cannabis can take months and months in the process if it ever gets the approval.
In Deb’s case, none of her conditions are eligible for prescription of medical cannabis yet. Prescription medications do not help to improve Deb’s health, the only drug that gives relief and quality of life, is one she cannot legally access.
Unfortunately, Deb had received legal advice to plead guilty, despite her obvious case of medical necessity. Deb was advised that she had no other choice but to plead guilty. Her former legal representative suggested that based on his phone call with the Police Prosecutor, Ms Lynch was treated by the justice system just as another druggie and the first two questions she would had to answer if she produced and possessed cannabis.
Deb was told that once she answered yes to those questions, the judge would find her guilty anyway and would get a more severe penalty for wasting everyone’s time and not pleading guilty.
While if Deb was to plead guilty, she was told by her former legal representative, she would have a good chance to be released without a penalty.
Being prosecuted can be a very gruelling process and comes with a huge amount of stress and uncertainty. Even more so, when it happens to a patient for possessing herbal medication that is completely harmless to self and to the community. More stress is the last thing such patients need.
Deb suffers from scleroderma (CREST with Raynaud’s phenomenon) and peripheral arterial disease. Stress increases the interruption of blood flow to her fingers and toes and should be avoided as much as possible. Dragging patients through a criminal court case, when they represent no danger to themselves or to the community is cruel and unjust.
Deb also suffers from post-traumatic stress and have a history of anxiety and depression. Her left kidney was removed last year due to a cancer operation and her doctors are observing a nodule in her lung for a possible progression of a tumor. Unfortunately, the list goes on as Deb has a list of other conditions, many of which contribute to her chronic pain and affect the quality of her life.
It is disgraceful that a patient with such conditions is criminalised and terrified by having to face court for growing her own medication, that carries no possibility of harm to herself and to the community.
The justice system that is supposed to save and protect us is busy dragging nannas through the system for growing a plant that can’t harm anyone.
Unfortunately, in this case, it looks like Deb’s circumstances may not have been considered entirely by her previous legal representatives before advice was given.
Even some of our readers here on greendorphin.com commented and suggested there might be other options that better represent Deb’s circumstances and would have been better not to plead guilty and defend the charges.
Deb sought further advice from various sources and came to the conclusion that her situation is clearly a medical necessity, therefore she is not guilty.
Taking matters into her own hands, with Grace Sands (from the Medical Cannabis Advisory
Group Queensland) on her side, Deb prepared a 20-page affidavit and withdraw her guilty plea last week.
The judge accepted the request to change the plea and set the date for the next court appearance on the 30th of November 2017.
Deb is now a lot better informed and prepared to fight the medical necessity case, which hopefully will result in a better outcome for herself as well as for cannabis law reform.
Fingers crossed and we’ll keep reporting back on developments of Deb’s story as it unfolds.