|Clear Cannabis Law Reform|
|Judge Alan Goldsack has decided he’s on a moral mission to wipe out cannabis cultivation — and he’s ignoring new reduced sentencing guidelines|
A senior British judge, ignoring new reduced drug sentencing guidelines, has jailed six men for growing marijuana.
Judge Alan Goldsack (no, that’s really his name, man) criticized new regulations that became effective last week and ignored the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, reports Chris Brooke at the Daily Mail.
Under the new sentencing guidelines, at least four of the six cannabis growers who were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court should probably have been given only “community penalties” not involving incarceration.
British tabloids have done everything they can to whip up reefer madness-style hysteria over so-called “skunk” cannabis, claiming its homegrown production in South Yorkshire, the area around Sheffield Crown Court, has supposedly become an “epidemic.” Judges there have been routinely jailing even low-level offenders “in an effort to clamp down on the industry,” the Daily Mail reports.
But the new guidelines specify a sentence range, if no more than nine plants are involved, from a conditional discharge to a medium-level community order, meaning no jail. Even where up to 28 plants are involved, the sentencing range is from a low-level community order up to 26 weeks in jail.
|Clear Cannabis Law Reform|
|Judge Alan Goldsack: “Suddenly reducing sentences, which have been seen as appropriate and hopefully effective in reducing a very common form of offending, would seriously undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system”|
Judge Goldsack, the Recorder of Sheffield and the most senior judge sitting at the city’s crown court, on Friday sentenced 13 cannabis growers in one hearing. He told the court it would “not be in the interests of justice” to follow the new guidelines.
“Suddenly reducing sentences, which have been seen as appropriate and hopefully effective in reducing a very common form of offending, would seriously undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system,” Judge Goldsack claimed. That leaves one to wonder: if they’ve been so “effective” in stopping cannabis cultivation, then why is there an “epidemic”?
In a lengthy monologue to a packed courtroom, Judge Goldsack said that cannabis is being grown widely in attics, cellars and bedrooms, and that a few plants could produce a “substantial amount” of the substance.
“There is the clearest possible evidence of the damaging impact on local communities of this particular type of offending,” Judge Goldsack lied. “The hope was that before too long the level of offending would drop off dramatically once potential offenders realized the sentence they face if caught.”
Judge Goldsack said that in his personal judgment, if a person has grown cannabis with an actual or “potential” yield close to or more than one kilo (2.2 pounds), “an immediate custodial sentence” is justified. Going by his own guidelines, he jailed six offenders and gave another seven community penalties.
Gary Woodward, 31, of Maltby, near Rotherham, got the longest sentence, at 15 months. He had four previous convictions for possessing cannabis and admitted supplying it to friends.
Alexander McGregor, 23, of Shiregreen, Sheffield, was imprisoned for 10 months. Mark Bolton, 47; Matthew Taylor, 28; Gary Brearley, 45; and Robert Healey, 24, all from Barnsley, each received nine months.
Later attorneys for several of the men jailed said they would be appealing the sentences.
The Sentencing Council, a public body set up to promote a “clear, fair and consistent approach to sentencing,” includes senior judges, a magistrate, solicitor, barrister, academic officials, police, and probation service officials.
British courts supposedly “must follow” guidelines published by the Sentencing Commission “unless it is in the interests of justices not to do so.”