Protesting for change of cannabis laws is more effective continued offences according to a magistrate.
Protesting for change of cannabis laws is more effective continued offences according to a magistrate. Liina Flynn

Offending no way to change law

THE list of places people can use cannabis without attracting officers of the law is one magistrate David Heilpern likes to recite to people who appear before him for offences involving the drug.

"You can move to the ACT, South Australia and the Northern Territory, there are countries in Europe and some states of the United States where you can smoke cannabis as much as you like, but not in NSW," Mr Heilpern said.

On Monday he placed Buccarumbi man Vaughan Anthony MacPhail, 43, on a seven-month suspended jail term after convicting him of a charge of cultivating a prohibited plant.

The offence breached bonds placed on MacPhail for earlier offences of driving while his licence was cancelled.

His solicitor Greg Coombes admitted the court was running out of options to deal with his client, who he said grew the 30 plants discovered at his property for self-medication of a work-related injury.

The police facts said the plants were detected from a police helicopter during a cannabis eradication operation in December.

Police officers drove to the property where MacPhail showed them plants between 30cm and 1200mm in height which he admitted were for his personal use.

In handing down his sentence, Mr Heilpern said he needed to find a more mainstream method of pain relief.

"This sentence is jail time which has been suspended so this is the last chance you've got," Mr Heilpern said.

"Unless you give up smoking cannabis you will go to jail and my prediction is you will end up in jail."

Mr Heilpern said if MacPhail wanted to change the law there were better ways to do it than by offending.

"If you want to change the law try seeing your MP, but don't continue smoking," he said.


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