Cover photo: stock photo, inset, Maltese courts
The legal team of a Maltese man who was convicted of growing 21 cannabis plants may have found a way to get their client out of a sure-gone prison sentence.
The 42-year-old man had been found guilty of growing the plants in 2017 and was sentenced to 20 months in jail by a court of magistrates.
However, in his appeal, lawyer Dr Arthur Azzopardi was able to use Article 8 of Chapter 537 of the 2014 Drug Law to request that the Court of Criminal Appeal be converted into a drug court. This was successfully done on Friday after a decree was handed down by Judge Edwina Grima.
This means that the 20-month sentence may be converted into a sentence that does not involve imprisonment and instead focus on rehabilitation.
The court heard from the man himself, who said that he had started smoking cannabis to help him sleep and deal with his depression. He has been receiving medical treatment for depression since he was 18, and he said the medication had turned him into a “nervous wreck” and an insomniac.
Cannabis helped him sleep well, he said.
He has now been placed under the supervision of the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board for the next 18 months until his appeal is decided. At that point, the court will decide whether they will be punishing the medically depressed man, or if they will “rehabilitate” him.