On Friday 1st November at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Brisbane the court will hear an appeal by Mr Alex Dimitropoulos against his conviction in the district court for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. In NSW a defence of medical necessity is available, which allows for a law to be broken if the action results in greater good. In Queensland the defence is called extraordinary emergency, the elements of which are not clearly defined.
The district court judge refused to allow Alex to present this defence to the jury and further refused to allow the defendant to inform the jury that they had the power to do justice and to ignore the facts and return a verdict of not guilty, if they believed that the law was oppressive and not in the public interest.
In a properly functioning democracy the hierarchy of power starts with the people, who elect a parliament, which then creates laws and the institutions, like the courts, to apply those laws. The jury, which is conceived as a microcosm of the whole population, has the unchallengeable power to acquit a defendant if, guided by their conscience, they believe that it is in the interests of justice to do so.
In order to properly serve justice the jury needs to be fully informed of their rights and powers. It is current practice for a judge to “direct” a jury to slavishly follow the law, which they incorrectly place above the interests of justice. There is now overwhelming evidence that the medical uses of cannabis can control or even reverse many diseases that do not respond to current allopathic treatments. Despite this evidence the current laws allow for only a small number of people to be treated with a very expensive and often inferior product.
A jury fully informed of its power to reach a verdict guided by their conscience is a protection against draconian laws, such as those prohibiting the home cultivation of cannabis. A win in the court of appeal will be huge victory for the cannabis community and all those in need of effective and affordable medicine.
We need your support. Attending court and witnessing the proceedings will demonstrate the community interest in this process and help attract media interest. It is our best chance to get meaningful reform for medical cannabis. For your own sake and the sake of those too ill to attend please show your support next Friday.
Dr Andrew Katelaris for more info 0467365964 or email firstname.lastname@example.org