Court rules 130g of cannabis were for personal use

Man spared imprisonment for cannabis use after court rules more than 100g found on his person was for personal use

A court has spared a man a sentence of up to 10 years in prison after more than 100g of cannabis was found in his car, ruling it was for personal use.

Fabio Ignazzitto, 32, has been conditionally discharged on the basis of evidence that the drug was for his personal use.

He had been stopped in St Paul’s Bay by local wardens in March of 2019, because of a broken headlamp.

But the wardens smelled the distinct aroma of cannabis as they approached the man’s car and had called the Qawra police station to investigate.

A police officer was dispatched to the scene and had searched Ignazzitto’s car, finding partially smoked joints inside a metal container and a plastic bag containing cannabis.

In his statement to the police, the man had admitted that the day before, he had bought 130 grams of cannabis for €430, which he had partaken of to roll a joint.

Criminal action was instituted against him for aggravated possession of cannabis as the circumstances indicated to the police that the drug was not intended solely for his personal use.

A total of eight partially-smoked joints together with 118.64 grams of cannabis grass were inside the bag, estimated by a court expert of having a street value of €2,254.

The accused’s partner also testified, telling the court that the man used to smoke some four or five joints daily, but no longer used drugs.

He used to buy larger quantities of the drug since it was cheaper to buy in bulk, the woman said.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke observed that there was no doubt that the accused had possessed the drug, but said that the difficulty arose in determining whether it had been in his possession for his own use since there was no fixed legal criteria to assess when the drug was not for personal use.

118 grams was “not an insignificant amount,” said the court, but also took into account the fact that the accused was a regular cannabis user and that there was no forensic evidence to show that the joints had been smoked by anyone else.

A search of the man’s residence had not returned any items related to drug trafficking, said the court.

Having seen the evidence and the man’s clean criminal record, the court acquitted him of aggravated possession, declaring him guilty of simple possession for which he was conditionally discharged for two years.

Ignazzitto was ordered to pay €324.50 in court expenses.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.