Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Judicial caprice is no way to pursue law and order

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  • Rosemary McDonald,

    To add to this discussion....Kelly should have wrangled her hearing to the Whangarei District Court.

    This gentleman was pinged with a nice growing set up....with over 700 seeds concealed behind a skirting board for future planting.

    Sentence... 40 hours' community work.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Here’s another example of inequity in sentencing.

    While Kelly van Gaalen is spending two years in jail for growing a few plants, this character has a history of drugs and violence including a nine year stretch for kidnapping someone and conducting a serious and prolonged assault over drug debts.

    Police raided his home looking for a stolen vehicle, which they found, along with a meth lab and a loaded pistol under the bed. A child living in the house tested positive for meth residue.

    Sentence… one year on home D and 100 hours of community work.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Another perfect example of sentencing unfairness.

    A Nelson father and son were caught with 562 plants over two houses. That's a substantial operation in anyone's book. However the judge decided that there was "no evidence of a financial motive for either defendant" and sentenced them to home detention. The story doesn't mention the length of the sentence.

    Meanwhile Kelly van Gaalen languishes in prison.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Michael Savidge,

    While our sentencing is pretty bad, it could be so, so much worse.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.

    These numbers are given more context when compared with the case of Rebecca Reider legally bringing cannabis into the country.

    she travelled through Customs at Auckland Airport on Friday with an ounce of medicinal cannabis that had been prescribed to her during a visit to Hawaii.

    So can see that our legal threshold before cultivation/possession is deemed to be for supply…

    Northland Crown prosecutor Mike Smith was surprised at the charge, saying while it was not his office that prosecuted Moodie, the law made it clear that anybody found to have more than 28g of cannabis was presumed to have it for supply.

    …is equal to what a Hawaiian Doctor might prescribe for one month’s use – that’s just the raw cannabis.

    New Zealand law allows anyone who is prescribed a medicine overseas to bring one month’s supply into the country for their own use – including cannabis products.

    So Van Gellen was in possession of the equivalent of 2 years worth of monthly prescriptions, split that with a smoking partner and that’s about even.

    As an agricultural country, it is expected that there may be some among our legislature who are aware what is meant by the term ’annual crop’. Following a summer of endless pruning, an outdoor cannabis grower may stockpile their annual 28g harvest (equiv: 2.3g p/month) for personal use without great concern about being prosecuted for supply. Obviously this is insufficient for many and quite unrealistic but it is basically free.

    Indoor growing, reliant on precious electrical energy enables growers to manipulate this annual cycle. Even still, the possibility of growing with the added complication of maintaining a stockpile/ flowering plant weight of 28g or less at all times requires creditable skill – placing the onus on growers to destroy stockpiled harvest in order to remain below that threshold. Users are not encouraged to grow cannabis themselves, the fairly obvious interpretation is that it is preferable to lawmakers that most cannabis users should purchase less than 28g of cannabis at any one time by feeding NZD into the black market to those prepared to face greater criminal liability for greater financial reward.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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