Photo: Tony Bower and his wife Julie were relieved after the sentencing. (ABC Mid North Coast: Luisa Rubbo)
Medicinal cannabis producer and campaigner Tony Bower has avoided time in prison for cultivating a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.
In March last year, the 63-year-old handed himself in to police the day after his Crescent Head property on the New South Wales mid-north coast was raided and 280 cannabis plants were seized.
Bower was also charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime, and possessing and supplying a prohibited drug.
While considering Bower's sentence on Monday, Judge Leonie Flannery in Port Macquarie District Court noted his guilty plea in the Local Court.
Judge Flannery proposed an 18-month Intensive Corrections Order, some of which may be served by home detention.
The judge ordered a home detention assessment from the Community Corrections District Court office to confirm that home detention was suitable.
The matter is next listed on April 1 when the judge is expected to set the terms of the Intensive Corrections Order.
Bower's pain-relief intentions noted
Photo: Mr Bower's barrister Greg Barnes leaves court after the sentencing submission. (ABC Mid North Coast: Luisa Rubbo)
Before sentencing Bower, Judge Flannery noted Bower's guilty plea and ran through the quantity and size of the cannabis plants that were seized from his property, as well as the extensive set-up, including equipment, on the property.
Judge Flannery noted the sentencing submission of Bower's barrister Greg Barnes which included Bower's desire to provide pain relief, and the lower levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a feature of medicinal cannabis.
The court heard that Bower was an unwell man with chronic health conditions including hypertension and that he suffered chronic pain as a result of a 1980 motorbike accident.
Possible home detention
Judge Flannery accepted "the offender has acted out of compassion for people" and acknowledged there was no evidence of supplying the drug in an illicit form.
However she did find it "troubling that Bower continued to break the law in this way".
In sentencing, Judge Flannery said Bower and his wife were on disability pensions and that Bower had spent almost three months in custody and was admitted to hospital.
Judge Flannery said the maximum penalty for cultivating a commercial prohibited plant, was 15 years in prison.
She said an Intensive Corrections Order reflected the seriousness of the offence and the need for a sentence to deter.
Photo: Tony Bower with his wife Julie, friends and supporters after the sentencing. (ABC Mid North Coast: Luisa Rubbo)
Bower did not wish to comment to the ABC after the sentencing but his wife Julie Bower said she was extremely relieved.
"It was a good result considering everything. The judge was very good and I'm just so relieved."
Originally published here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-05/medical-cannabis-producer-tony-bower-escapes-jail/10869800