George Down, who has a bipolar disorder, with his mother Miriam.Picture: Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian
Miriam Down, the mother who became a convicted drug dealer over cannabis plants she grew to help treat her son’s mental illness, will keep her house after prosecutors dropped the possibility of seizing it under the State’s proceeds of crime laws.
Down, 76, was convicted of supplying cannabis after workmen spotted 2m-tall marijuana plants over her backyard fence. Police were called and found the crop and 1.4kg of harvested cannabis at the Wembley home.
Despite explaining she was growing the drug to help treat the bipolar condition of her son George, the number and size of the plants put Down at risk of jail and of losing her home under strict drug-trafficker legislation.
A court last year imposed a suspended jail term on Down and the Director of Public Prosecutions has now abandoned any bid to go after her home as “crime used”, which could have meant it was seized by the State, leaving her and Mr Down homeless.
“It is such a relief,” she said.
“I can now rest in peace knowing my sons will have somewhere when I’m gone.
“I had given up long ago and hit rock bottom, but my lawyers kept on fighting and I’m so glad they did. There is a huge difference between recreational drugs and what I was using them for.”
Her lawyer Shash Nigam said he would ask Attorney-General John Quigley to amend the law to stop confiscation cases such as Down’s from proceeding.
“In my view these proceedings were misconceived from the outset,” Mr Nigam said.
“I’m glad we got the result in the end, but it was an experience that Ms Down shouldn’t have had to go through.
“The previous government weren’t interested in an amendment and we won’t hold our breath with this one.
“Neither wants to be seen as being soft on crime, when the reality is this has nothing to do with being soft on crime.
“It’s about fairness, justice and common sense.”