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Relax cannabis laws for chronic pain: magistrate

Magistrate Clynt Johansen is urging the SA Govt to relax cannabis laws for sufferers of chronic pain. (ABC News)

clynt johansen majistrateAn Adelaide Hills magistrate is urging Parliament to consider relaxing cannabis laws for sufferers of chronic pain.

Mount Barker Magistrate Clynt Johansen made the comments while sentencing 59-year-old Colin Lindner, who has a musculoskeletal disorder, fibromyalgia.

Lindner treats the condition with morphine and other prescription drugs but says he turned to cannabis for more effective pain relief after medical advice.

He was caught growing the drug at his home in the Hills two years ago and ended up in the Mt Barker court.

Lindner pleaded guilty to growing and possessing cannabis for medicinal use last week after a third charge of possessing the drug for sale was dropped.

Magistrate Johansen convicted Lindner without a penalty.

“He was typical of very many that come before me from time to time and I looked at that fellow as he stood in the courtroom and it was obvious on his face that he was in absolute pain,” he said.

Magistrate Johansen says he sees about 25 people in a similar situation to Mr Lindner every year.

“They’ve got pain-related illness and they use the cannabis as a pain reliever, an anaesthetic if you like, and it complements their mainstream medication,” he said.

“They’re not criminals, they’ve just found a need for something to assist them through a very difficult time.”

Magistrate Johansen says he is completely opposed to illicit drugs because he sees the misery they create in his court room every day, but he wants the Government to consider relaxing penalties for the small group of people who use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson says the Government will not consider changing the law.

“We are not going to allow our anti-drugs system to be breached in this way because once the breach was opened up for so-called medicinal cannabis it will just lead to cannabis for everyone,” he said.

“People of Mr Johansen’s age and perhaps my age recall marijuana that was giggle grass and had a very low THC content.

“Today’s cannabis grown under hydroponic conditions has 8 to 9 times higher THC content. Blows your brains and causes mental illness.”

Mr Lindner has promised not to use the drug again.

“If I do and the authorities are notified I’m going to end up back in the courts again,” he said.

By Rebecca Brice


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