New Zealand: Sentence Halved for Medical Marijuana Activist
By Steve Elliott
A medical marijuana activist in New Zealand has had his home detention sentence cut in half after a hearing in the Court of Appeal.
Activist William McKee, 58, was originally sentenced to 12 months' home detention, reports the Aeotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP). He promoted the medical use of marijuana through a website called GreenCross, which seeks a change in the law to make cannabis available for medicinal purposes.
A police investigation was reportedly prompted by activity on the site about selling and distributing cannabis.
An undercover police officer made several cannabis purchases, totaling $305, over four months after initially contacting McKee in February 2010.
McKee has known the value of medical marijuana for 37 years now, since the amputation of one leg after he was injured in a hit-and-run accident just after his 21st birthday. Before and after the amputation, he found that self-medicating with cannabis brought him the most effective relief.
According to McKee, the undercover officer had talked him into selling the cannabis by claiming severe headaches. McKee had unsuccessful tried to get the officer to become a GreenCross cardholder, which would have given the policeman a medical exemption.
McKee told the court the small sales he made, after much "wheedling" from the undercover officer, should have been regarded as entrapment.
Though this part of his appeal failed, the court said in a judgment released on Thursday that there was scope for an "adjustment" to the sentence because of McKee's humanitarian motivations.
(Photo of Billy McKee: Akl Seshnz)