Man waits 20 years for ruling in 0.02 gram cannabis case

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A ruling has finally been made in the case of a 63-year-old Maltese man who was charged with cultivating 0.02 grams of cannabis in 2001.

Eugenio Camenzuli was handed a suspended sentence and, as long as he does not re-offend, will not face any prison time.

According to Malta Today, during the first sitting of the case in 2006, Camenzuli faced six months in prison and a Lm200 ($684) fine, the minimum sentence for cultivating cannabis.

Camenzuli allegedly planted three cannabis seeds but tossed them out of his window when police arrived at his home.

According to Lovin Malta, police took 18 months to arraign Camenzuli, and another seven years passed before he received the six-month sentence. Camenzuli then appealed that decision and it took 11 years before the Criminal Appeals Court heard the case.

In sentencing, Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera noted the time that had passed since the original charge, the fact that Camenzuli had maintained steady employment, completed a drug rehabilitation program and avoided any other criminal charges.

“Cultivation implies that whoever is cultivating cannabis is doing so in order to have sufficient quantities to be able to process and sell it and therefore traffic it,” she said, per Malta Today, adding that the small amount was more akin to a simple possession charge.

Camenzuli received a one-year suspended sentence for the six month’s imprisonment and was ordered to pay the original fine, as well as additional court costs.

Earlier this year, Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed plans to introduce a law that would legalize possession of a small amount of cannabis and plants for personal use.

“It cannot be acceptable that a teenager who is caught with a joint is arrested, interrogated and has to appear in court or before the drug tribunal. I don’t believe this is the way forward,” Abela said, per Times of Malta.

The country legalized medical cannabis in 2018 though advocates say medical consumers only have a few, very expensive products to choose from and there are a limited number of legal sources.

Last summer, the country faced a medical cannabis shortage, prompting further calls for legalization.

“Many people just want to be able to grow their own cannabis as they just cannot afford the exorbitant prices,” Andrew Bonello, president of Releaf Malta, a non-profit advocating for cannabis reform, told Lovin Maltalast year. “How can a cancer patient afford €960 ($1,411) a month when they can’t even work?”

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