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Pot Smoker Loses Appeal

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Paul Rodney Hansen, 51, and another man were found at Hansen's Glenorchy, Queenstown, home in May 2003 stripping cannabis plants into buckets. The cannabis weighed 1.8kg.

Hansen admitted he owned half the drugs but said it was his annual supply, telling police he didn't want to buy the drug from undesirable people so he grew it himself.

He was convicted of possessing cannabis for supply in March 2005 and sentenced to 2½ years jail.

If he had been convicted of the lesser charge of possessing cannabis for personal use, the maximum punishment would have been a three-month jail sentence.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, anyone caught with more than 28g of cannabis is presumed to be selling the drug, and the burden is on the offender to prove otherwise.

At the Supreme Court, Hansen's lawyer argued that putting the burden of proof on the accused was inconsistent with his right to being presumed innocent until proven guilty, under the Bill of Rights Act.

The Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed Hansen's appeal.

Justice Peter Blanchard said no-one familiar with life in New Zealand would dispute that illegal drugs caused "grave social ills", and users were "stimulated to criminal activity under their mind-altering and addictive effects".

He said in his view, the commercial supply of drugs was therefore such a substantial concern that the right of presumed innocence should be overridden.

Source: Stuff.co.nz
Contact: Stuff.co.nz
Copyright: 2007 Fairfax New Zealand
Website: New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz
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