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Tasmanian pensioner’s cannabis farm was a desperate health-driven choice, court hears

Pulse Tasmania
Tasmanian pensioner's cannabis farm was a desperate health-driven choice, court hears. Image / Stock

A Tasmanian disability support pensioner who was found with a ‘large amount’ of cannabis and more than two dozen plants had a chronic health condition that ‘left him with no other choice’ but to grow and consume the drug, a court has heard.

52-year-old Robert Wilson was found not guilty of drug trafficking and cultivating controlled plants for sale but found guilty of possession and cultivation of a controlled plant in the Supreme Court of Tasmania recently.

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In his passing comments on the sentence, Associate Justice Porter said Wilson was living in a van on a block of land in Kelso, west of Devonport, when police executed a search and found 7.5 kilograms of cannabis, 37 plants and an improperly stored rifle and ammunition in April 2022.

“[Wilson] fully co-operated during the search, and when interviewed, admitted the cultivation and harvesting of the cannabis but explained he was a very heavy user due to a major health issue giving rise to the need for pain relief, and the cannabis was for his own personal use,” Justice Porter said.

“During the last endoscopic surgery he had, he was close to losing enough blood to make his situation fatal. About seven years ago he was told he had a 50 per cent chance of dying within a year with an increase of 10 per cent for each year that passed.”

Cannabis. Image / Stock

Justice Porter said Wilson had been prescribed opioids but preferred cannabis and although he had been attempting to rely more on prescription medication since his arrest, he “still occasionally smokes marijuana” because ‘feels that there is really no option’.

Described as “unsophisticated”, Wilson’s cultivation operation had been ‘particularly unsuccessful’ the year before, as he had planted and cultivated a “considerably higher number than he had in the past” and was “rather surprised with the outcome”.

Justice Porter said the case called for “some individualisation” given the “very long battle he has had with this terrible affliction and the most regrettable situation in terms of his life expectancy”.

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Wilson was fined $1,200 for drug-related charges and $150 for firearm storage violations.

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