Insomniac cannabis cultivator's appeal to be heard by a drug court

Court hearing appeal against man's 20-month jail sentence converts into a drugs court by means of a decree

A court hearing an appeal against a man’s 20-month prison sentence for cultivating cannabis has converted itself into a drugs court, a move that may well result in a non-custodial sentence.

42-year-old Walter Desira had been convicted of cultivating 21 illegal cannabis plants in 2017. Passing judgment on the man, the court of magistrates had sentenced him to 20 months in prison.

Desira told the court that he had taken to smoking cannabis to help with his depression, for which he had been receiving conventional treatment since the age of 18. The medication he had been prescribed had rendered him an insomniac and a nervous wreck, he said, and the joints he would smoke helped him sleep.

Through his lawyer, Arthur Azzopardi, Desira had filed an appeal against the sentence, which is still being heard.

In the course of proceedings, the Court of Criminal Appeal was also requested to convert itself into a drug court. This it did, by means of a decree handed down on Friday.

Until Desira's appeal is decided, he was placed under the supervision of the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board for 18 months, during which time he will be advised to follow a care plan. At the end of this period, the Court will be in a position to impose forms of punishment other than imprisonment.

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