Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 2004
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2004, Archant Regional
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance,


A former Norwich City Council candidate, who used cannabis for his
back pain and gave some to help out multiple sclerosis sufferers, has
had his jail term cut by two thirds.

Richard John Lehmann, 52, of Shorncliffe Close, Norwich, stood in June
as a Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate for the Wensum Ward.

On July 1, he was jailed for nine months after admitting producing
cannabis at the city's crown court.

But judges sitting at London's Court of Appeal cut that to three
months after agreeing the term was "manifestly excessive" given the
background of the crime and the offender himself.

Mr Justice Gray said a doctor preparing a medical report on Lehmann's
use of the drug said "he could derive some benefit [from it] as it
would help his back pain."

He added that Lehmann was "entitled to say he believes he derives
therapeutic benefit" from his use of the drug.

The judge, who was sitting with Lord Justice May and Mrs Justice
Hallett, said police discovered Lehmann was growing the drug at his
home when they went there on an unrelated matter in October, 2003.

Officers said the estimated 931 grams he was in the process of
producing would have lasted the average user about one year.

But Lehmann, said the judge, told police he could get through it in
eight to ten months "because he was a heavy user".

The basis of his guilty plea was that most of the haul was for his own
personal use.

He was also a member of the United Church of Holy Sacred Herbs who
would receive cannabis as "part of the sacrament" and share it with
other worshippers, said Mr Justice Gray.

Lehmann, who has previous convictions for the production and
possession of cannabis, suffered from depression but was not getting
regular medication for it in jail and was considered at low risk of
reoffending, the judge added.

Giving the court's ruling, Mr Justice Gray said Lehmann's crime
deserved a custodial sentence, and that the change in the law in early
2004 on the legal status of cannabis "did not make an alteration to
the sentence for producing cannabis".

But he cut Lehmann's jail term because he accepted grounds including
his background, that he had not profited from his crime and that at
least the majority of the cannabis was for his own use.
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