In a case that has been described as earmarking “a wind of change” for the UK, Andrew Baines, 46, has received the lowest possible punishment for supplying hundreds of patients with medical cannabis.
Father of two and cannabis patient, Baines, had been using his qualifications in cannabis science to illegally supply medical cannabis for people with cancer and life-changing illnesses.
Baines was caught with around one kilo of cannabis and 30 plants at his property in January 2020 and was charged with supply and production of a class B drug under the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971.
As a cannabis patient, Baines had a Cancard membership – a medical cannabis ID designed in collaboration with police. Although the card itself does not provide impunity from the law, as part of its service, Cancard assisted Baines in securing Cancard solicitor Hannah Sampson of Sampson Bailey.
Hundreds of patients turned out in Grimsby to show support for Baines and provided testimonials to the court highlighting “his selflessness, bravery and impact in his work” which could have seen Baines land a maximum of 30 years to life in prison.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) gave Baines the lowest possible punishment – a six month community order with no costs to pay.
Solicitor Hannah Sampson said: “This ruling is unprecedented, I have never known anyone be handed a six month community order.
“You get 12 months if you steal a sandwich from Tesco. This case, perhaps, earmarks a wind of change. This case, perhaps, means that finally, the law will catch up with the enormity of what cannabis can do to save lives.”
Founder of Cancard, Carly Barton, who supported the case, said: “I salute the CPS in this case who made the fair decision not to imprison Andrew for providing access to life changing medicine for people in need.
“Andrew has improved the lives of thousands of people who were sent home to die. The alternative for those people was to access these medicines via the criminal market which pours money into county lines and causes harm.
“Experts like Andrew are few and far between. Currently they are bridging the gap that our healthcare system is not providing. Now we need to look at better access schemes so that those who need it can access cannabis, and, so that our experts, like Andrew, are able to utilise their specialisms legally.
“Currently our most knowledgeable scientists are operating underground and this makes
Cancard has said that Baines – who maintained detailed patient records and has treated thousands of people in need without taking any money for his services – supplying these patients with medical cannabis prevented vulnerable people from accessing potentially dangerous products from criminals on the streets.
The organisation has stated that it hopes that the case might prove to be a catalyst for improving the lives of patients who cannot afford a private prescription: “The Judge, CPS and police force were united – at least to some extent – in the belief that this man is not a criminal, and that a custodial sentence did not fit the “crime”.”
It continued: “Until there is an affordable, safe supply of safe, quality cannabis for all suitable patients, Cancard will continue to engage relevant policy makers to improve the lives of patients.”
Baines said: “As soon as they understood what I was doing the police were brilliant with me, I was not handcuffed and I was treated not as a criminal but as a human being. The police get a lot of stick but in my case they were great and it’s a clear indication that they did not sign up to arrest people trying to help others.”
One patient, Belinda Williams, was diagnosed with incurable liver cancer and was sent home to prepare for her death when her husband made contact with Andrew.
Her husband, Russ Williams, commented: “I made contact with Andy and our lives have not been the same since. Andy did not hesitate and set about helping us. We offered to pay him, but he refused point-blank.
“We are now 13 months on and I am pleased to report that all six of my wife’s tumours have gone and just this week we were given the all clear. Our NHS oncologist is in shock.”
Seven year old Oscar, who has a diagnosis of autism and lennox-gastaut syndrome, was suffering from hundreds of seizures a day which were making him increasingly disabled.
Oscar’s mother Emma commented: “If it wasn’t for Andy our son would be in a wheelchair, it’s thanks to Andy that he is walking.
“We also have the backing of Oscar’s neurologist. Oscar’s school and family members are blown away by his progress.”
Baines also gave assistance with providing palliative care to BBC radio presenter Becky Hayes’ late father during his final months following a throat cancer diagnosis.
Hayes commented: “He travelled a long way to come and see myself and my dad to talk us through everything.
“He never charged for his time or asked for anything in return. His knowledge is incredible, he is the most selfless man and I can’t quite believe there are people in this world like him. He continued to stay in contact with my family providing invaluable support and again made a long journey to see my father when he was near the end.
“This will never be forgotten by my family.”
Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe
#LegaliseitEP is focusing on human rights-based cannabis policy – “it is a matter of freedom”.
The group, made up of MEPs from five different parties, has formed to facilitate discussions around amending policy for the personal use of cannabis in Europe.
As countries such as Malta, Germany and Luxembourg have announced progressive amendments to cannabis policy, the informal interest group is supporting human rights-based policies for the personal use of cannabis.
The group is made up of the MEPs Luke Flanagan of Ireland, The Left; Mikuláš Peksa of the Czech Republic, Greens; Monica Semedo of Luxembourg, Renew; Cyrus Engerer of Malta, S&D; and, Dorian Rookmaker of The Netherlands, ECR.
In an open letter to 705 members of the European Parliament, the group states that Member States should have the autonomy to create cannabis policy that reflects the needs and specificities of their society.
As well as encouraging the MEPs to join the group, the open letter also calls for more information sharing between Member States regarding recreational cannabis and for fact-based discussion on cannabis, which the group says has been subject to misinformation for a long time.
The letter states: “Due to outdated and unpredictable patchwork of legislation, citizens across the EU are often finding themselves being forced to turn to the black market or even worse, imprisoned for being in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not reflect the level of freedom we have come to expect from living in Europe.
“We cannot deny that with new legislation coming forward within EU Member States, we are likely to find ourselves facing repercussions at an EU level. As MEPs, we want to build on this momentum and create a cross-party interest group within the European Parliament, where we will share best practices, talk to experts, organise hearings and conferences, as well as debate the situation of personal use of cannabis within the Union.”
Monica Semendo, of Luxembourg’s Renew, stated: “I am in favour of the legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products because it is a matter of freedom.
“It’s a matter of one’s own choice. And if someone decides to consume cannabis, they should have access to a safe product.
“We have to focus on transparent information, education programmes and risk reduction, especially for young adults.”
Cyrus Engerer of Malta’s S&D, stated: “People should have the right to take autonomous informed decisions about their lives, including whether or not they use cannabis.
“Let’s talk basics. No one should go to jail over a joint. And now for some real talk – many people still are.
“Where I come from – Malta – we are the first European country to fully legalise cannabis use Germany, and Luxembourg will soon follow it. It’s time that we talk about cannabis and our personal freedoms and rights.”
Hear what the founding members of #LegaliseitEP have to say about why they’ve decided to launch a cross party @Europarl_EN interest group on #Cannabis & #CannabisLegalisation @lukeming @RookmakerDorien @MonicaSemedoLux @vonpecka @engerer pic.twitter.com/b20NDFOAmg
— Legalise It EP (@LegaliseIt_EP) July 14, 2022
Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany
The company is preparing for the potential legalisation of adult-use cannabis in Germany.
Greenrise Global Brands has welcomed recent developments in Germany as it awaits guidelines from the German Government in the coming months.
Germany’s “traffic light” coalition made plans to legalise recreational cannabis official in November 2021 with the publication of its agreement.
The coalition, which includes the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and The Greens, agreed to legalise the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for “pleasure purposes”. With a focus on health-oriented cannabis policy, the development aims to move consumers away from the black market, control quality of products and ensure the protection of minors.
This year, five hearings are planned throughout to discuss the legislative process on the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes, with the first meeting being held in June, at the Federal Ministry of Health.
The Federal Government is anticipated to submit a draft law to Parliament (Bundestag) by the end of 2022.
Greenrise Global, which has a wholly-owned medical cannabis subsidiary, AMP Alternative Medical Products GmbH that imports EU-GMP medical cannabis from within the European Union and elsewhere and has well-established relationships with pharmacies and clinics across Germany, has welcomed the development.
Supporter of the health benefits of cannabis and a keystone shareholder and director of Greenrise, as well as co-founder of CannaCare Health, Frank Otto, commented: “The consultation process shows that Germany is no longer talking about whether to legalise adult-use, but how.
“We also believe that there will be a domino effect as European countries are watching very closely as Europe’s largest economy joins Canada and California in legalising cannabis for adult use.”
AMP Alternative Medical Products has reported that preliminary unaudited sales for first half year 2022 increased 14 per cent to €268,479 compared to sales of €236,399 during the first half year of 2021.
Greenrise acquired 51 per cent of CannaCare, which sells CBD wellness products through traditional retail channels in Germany and German-speaking markets in Europe, at the beginning of Q2. The company has reported that preliminary Q2 unaudited sales for CannaCare increased 187 per cent to €474,000 compared to Q1 2022 sales of €165,000.
Managing director of AMP and director of Greenrise, Dr Stefan Feuerstein, said: “The exceptional sales growth from CannaCare during the second quarter confirms our strategy of investing in CBD in addition to medical cannabis as we prepare for the potential legalisation of adult-use in Germany.
“We look forward to the government providing guidelines in the coming months, which will provide certainty on how and when to position our businesses.
“We expect pharmacies to play a significant role and are preparing our pharmacy customers for the possibility of selling adult-use products as well as soon as legislation is in effect. We also realigned our medical cannabis business by streamlining our medical sales team, offering more pharmaceutical cannabis products to doctors to prescribe and are preparing to import high-THC flowers from several European cultivators.”
CFO of CannaCare, Dr Tilman Spangenberg, commented: “Greenrise’s investment allowed CannaCare to launch its CBD products in three leading German drugstore chains, which dramatically increased sales in a very short period of time.
“We expect the full impact of this sales channel to unfold in the third as well as fourth quarter. Our priorities for the remainder of this year are to grow CannaCare’s sales and operating cash flow positive by introducing new sales channels and adding additional drugstore chains.”
Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force
The Swiss government announced in June that rules for medical cannabis will be simplified.
Today, 1 August 2022, Switzerland’s amendments to its Narcotics Act come into force, which will allow patients in the country easier access to medical cannabis.
Switzerland has now joined a number of countries across Europe that are enabling patient access to cannabis by removing its ban on the medicine.
Previously, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) required exceptional approval for use of medical cannabis. This reduced patient access to cannabis as administrative processing was unable to keep up with the demand from potential patients.
The use of medical cannabis will now be subject to regular control measures. The defined limit of at least 1.0% total THC content remains unchanged.
Under the new amendments, medical prescriptions will no longer require an exceptional permit from the FOPH. Cannabis will be reallocated from Switzerland’s Narcotics List Ordinance list from List d, which is prohibited narcotics, to List a, which is all substances subject to control measures), along with preparations such as extracts, resins, oils and tinctures.
Dronabinol and THC will now also be included List a “provided there is an intended medical purpose”.
The new amendment enables doctors to make the decision on whether a patient requires a medical cannabis prescription, speeding up the process of accessing the medicine for patients.
The medicine will now enter Switzerland’s pharmaceutical system and controlled by the health authority SwissMedic, which will be taking over the role of the country’s Cannabis Agency for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
Under the amendments, there will be a two-stage authorisation procedure, which will require an establishment licence and an individual licence for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
SwissMedic has stated that the handling of cannabis for non-medical purposes continues to be generally prohibited and will continue to require an exemption from the FOPH.
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