Cannabis dealer fled after cancer patients told judge he saved them

Cannabis dealer spares jail for giving drugs to cancer patients

Andrew Baines, 46, faced up to 15 years in prison for manufacturing and supplying a Class B drug

A father-of-two caught with more than a kilogram of cannabis was spared jail after it was revealed he was only giving it to cancer patients and the critically ill.

Hundreds of clients of Andrew Baines flooded the court with letters explaining how he helped them ease their pain by only making enough money to cover his costs.

The 46-year-old was spared a 15-year sentence after prosecutors decided to prosecute him on the lowest possible charge, for which the judge gave him the lowest possible sentence of a six-month community directive.

Grimsby Magistrates Court heard how Mr Baines himself began using cannabis for pain relief after being confined to a wheelchair in a road traffic accident.

He was arrested in April 2020 after Post employees became suspicious of a package he had sent.

Police searched his Lincoln home and found a kilogram of cannabis along with more than 30 plants.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially charged him with supplying production of a Class B drug, but later decided to prosecute him for only the least serious offense in the category: producing up to seven plants.

Becky Hayes, a presenter at BBC Radio Sheffield whose father used Mr Baines’ cannabis in his final months with throat cancer, was among several people who wrote to District Judge Geraldine Kelly.

Cannabis dealer spares jail for giving drugs to cancer patients

Families of terminally ill cannabis users hailed Mr Baines as the “most selfless man”.

She said: “Andrew has traveled a long way to come and talk to me and my dad.

“He never charged for his time or asked for anything in return. His knowledge is incredible. He is the most selfless man.’

Others said Mr Baines changed their lives and turned down offers of payment.

Judge Kelly, who also spared Mr. Baines legal fees, said in her ruling: “If the law were different, Mr. Baines would have been applauded and not punished.

“I believe a community order in this case is warranted not because of you, but because of the message we need to send.”

Cannabis dealer spares jail for giving drugs to cancer patients

The father of two was given a six-month civil service order and saved legal fees

Mr Baines, who is applying for Disability Allowance, told the Times after the verdict: “After waiting two years, the verdict was a huge weight off my shoulders. It was a stressful time.

“The law here is very antiquated. A lot of the opiate-based drugs they give people in end-of-life care are pretty awful and patients don’t really agree with them.

“But medical cannabis relieves pain and patients still have time to spend with their families.”

His attorneys called the ruling a “landmark case” because it “recognises the difference between people who are criminally involved in the supply of drugs for profit and someone who is trying to help people.”

Cannabis was legalized for certain medical uses nearly four years ago, but only three NHS prescriptions have been issued so far.

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Justin Scacco

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