|Activist Winston Matthews, 55 and disabled, is being jailed for 16 months for growing cannabis to treat his back pain|
British pro-cannabis campaigner Winston Matthews, 55, who refused to stop growing marijuana despite repeated arrests, has been jailed for 16 months in the U.K.
Matthews, of Upfield Close, Horley, admitted violating a suspended sentence he was given on August 23, 2010, as well as three counts of cultivating cannabis and two counts of possession between August 28 and December 16 that same year, reports Ben Endley at Get Surrey.
He had been scheduled for sentencing last Friday but the hearing was deferred until Monday, when Judge Suzan Matthews (no relation) admitted the case was “unique” but insisted the grandfather of two still had to be jailed.
The day before his sentencing, Matthews, an outspoken member of Surrey’s Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), posted on Facebook about the case.
“All I had to do to get a deferred sentence yesterday [February 3] was lie to a judge and say I’d stop taking cannabis!” he posted. “I wasn’t prepared to do that! One love!”
Tom Stevens, who defended Matthews in court, said his client suffered with chronic back pain and used marijuana for medical purposes.
|Matthews and his cannabis|
The reason he grew the cannabis himself was so he didn’t have to be part of black-market supply chain, Stevens told the court.
“What was asked for on the last occasion was that the sentence be deferred; the reason for that was to allow Mr Matthews time to explore other pain relief options that may be available to him,” Stevens said.
“It’s quite clear that Mr Matthews has been using cannabis for a considerable period of time,” Stevens told the court. “The reasons for that have been touched upon by both probation and the prosecution but the thing is, for a very considerable period of his life he has lived in pain as a result of a back injury sustained when he was 16.
“Ultimately, the reason he cultivates himself is he doesn’t want to be part of any supply chain,” Stevens said.
Police had visited Matthews’ house three times between August and December 2010, according to Prosecutor Rhiannon Sadler, and seized 84 plants which would have produced “thousands of pounds worth of cannabis.” They also found 4.75 grams of cannabis and 7.36 grams of “cannabis resin.”
|Winston Matthews: Prisoner of Conscience|
”There is no evidence available that it is for anything other than his own personal use,” Sadler admitted.
Judge Matthews ordered that the cannabis and growing equipment seized from the suspect be destroyed, but did not order him to pay for court costs or unpaid work.
“You committed further offenses within weeks of being in court and receiving a suspended sentence,” the judge told Matthews. “Since October 2009 you have been persistently breaching the law by growing, cultivating and possessing cannabis.
“The sentence passed on you in 2010 had no deterrent effect at all,” the judge said. “What strikes me is that here you are again; you know that taking cannabis is illegal, you have a genuinely held view that’s a situation that should be changed.
“But the law in this country is abundantly clear and that applies to Winston Matthews; that applies to everyone,” the judge said.
A “FREE WINSTON MATTHEWS” page has been established on Facebook. As of Wednesday morning, February 8, it already had 909 members.
On Matthews’ last full day of freedom, he posted this on his Facebook wall: