As if dealing with cancer, chemotherapy and radiation aren’t enough, West Australian resident Warren Burns now faces the possibility of losing his home and all his possessions. A police raid in 2014 left him with charges that included drug trafficking, and under Western Australian lawmakers want to use this charge to seize all of Burns’ assets.
Australian lawmakers say no to letting it grow
For more than twenty years, 69-year-old Burns has been suffering from heart trouble, arthritis, chronic pain and now, cancer. In an attempt to find some type of relief, Burns turned to medical cannabis believing it could help him gain control over his pain and nausea, as well as enhance his depleting appetite.
I found when I had a smoke, the pain would disappear and I was able to get up, go out and do some work.
Burns began growing his own medical cannabis to ensure the quality and content was safe for his use. After discovering his home grow, police raided his properties in 2014 and found 100.81 grams of flowers and 73 plants. In West Australia, having more than 20 plants qualifies as drug trafficking and police planned to prosecute to the fullest extent of their power.
Burns never denied that the cannabis was his, and tried to explain that it was simply for his own, personal, medical use. He explained that he had never sold cannabis to anyone else, but authorities wouldn’t listen.
Burns was sentenced to twelve months in jail, by a judge who noted during sentencing that his main reason for cultivating cannabis was to deal with pain, but still, the charges stuck. Now, he waits for what is called a Confiscation Hearing, which is scheduled for next week.
Under West Australia law, being found guilty of drug trafficking leads to the enforcement of property confiscation laws. This means the government can seize any property or possession, even if it was legally obtained because there’s a chance it could have been purchased with illegal funds.
In Burns’ case, this means he could lose three different properties, which he set up for his children, and every other worldly item he owns, essentially rendering a cancer patient homeless.
The cannabis was to help me live some sort of life, not make me money – there is no drug money.
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