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Judge warns Wexford farmer caught growing cannabis for MS treatment to ‘keep to the sheep’

While James Sinnott (50) was providing cannabis oil to needy people, he was not making a profit

Wexford People

A 50-year-old sheep farmer from Broadway who grew cannabis to treat ailments such as MS was convicted on the treble for growing the drug.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted that James Sinnott was not cultivating the cannabis for profit and decided not to send him to jail.

But Sinnott was warned that his activities, which were detected in 2018 and 2019, broke the law and that any repeat was likely to result in a spell behind bars.

The evidence offered to Wexford Circuit Court by gardaí followed a pattern that was repeated on the treble.

They recalled their visits to the farm at Discovery Valley Ballyhoo, Broadway.

On each occasion, they arrived with a search warrant to find cannabis plants growing in a greenhouse or in a polytunnel.

They also seized quantities of cannabis oil, which the accused had pressed from his illicit crop, and also herbal cannabis.

The investigators put a street value on the material they seized at the farm, with sums of €7,568, €16,482 and €12,480 mentioned.

However, though Sinnott admitted that he supplied his oil to others, it became clear that he was not a drug dealer in the usual sense of the phrase.

He consistently informed the visiting gardaí that the oil was intended for use in the treatment of illness.

Detective Trevor Buckley agreed that the accused was well liked and well respected, while having liberal views on cannabis.

It was also accepted by the gardaí that Sinnott had eventually, after the three raids on his premises, stopped growing his unconventional crop.

Barrister Roderick O’Hanlon pointed out that his client is not alone in believing in the medicinal properties of cannabis.

What the defendant did, which brought him to the attention of the gardaí, would be legal in some other jurisdictions, counsel pointed out.

Testimonials handed into the court included some from individuals who felt that the oil had assisted them in dealing with conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Judge Nolan described the belief of the defendant that he could break the law in order to help people as misguided.

The court accepted on the other hand that, in providing cannabis oil to needy people, he was not making a profit.

Two years imprisonment were suspended in full once the defendant agreed to be bound to the peace for four years.

‘Keep to the sheep,’ were the judge’s closing words to the offender.


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