LOCAL medical cannabis supporters have reacted with horror at the jailing of a North Coast grower considered a “prophet of pot” for desperate parents.
Tony Bower, proprietor of Mullaways Medical Cannabis in Crescent Head, has been supplying marijuana free of charge for use in cannabis oil tinctures to treat children with conditions such as intractable epilepsy.
Many parents, like former Tamworth mum Cassie Batten, believe the tinctures are responsible for a dramatic turnaround in the conditions of their critically ill children.
Mr Bower, 58, was yesterday sentenced in Port Macquarie Local Court to 12 months’ jail for the cultivation of a commercial quantity of cannabis and has vowed to appeal the sentence.
Mrs Batten’s sister, Tamworth’s Shirley Kirk, said the conviction plunged the lives of children like her nephew Cooper into danger.
“This is going to affect so many families and they’ll have to watch their children deteriorate and potentially die,” Ms Kirk said.
“I just feel terrible for the families that were being supplied by Tony.”
The case comes as governments across Australia, including NSW, debate legalising cannabis as a medicine.
“It (the conviction) makes it even more urgent that the government sorts this out quickly,” Tamworth medical marijuana advocate Lucy Haslam said.
“We’re dealing with people’s lives and this will create a supply vacuum in the market.”
The court heard that on April 6, police from the Mid North Coast Local Area Command were conducting helicopter cannabis eradication duties in the Hastings district.
At 12.45pm, officers flew over Mr Bower’s property where they identified a number of cannabis plants.
The discovery was relayed to officers on the ground who subsequently attended the property and spoke to Mr Bower.
Mr Bower admitted to police that he was responsible for the 67 cannabis plants growing on his property.
The plants, neatly potted in several rows, were located in a large enclosure adjacent to a bush humpy.
Mr Bower told police the plants each signified a “sick kid” for whom the cannabis was allegedly grown.
Mr Bower, who admitted he smokes cannabis on a daily basis, has previously claimed Mullaways is the only company in the world producing liquid cannabis which gives users no “high” side effect.
He said he delivered liquid cannabis from his property to more than 400 customers around Australia and claims the demand is growing.
Police seized 67 plants from the property with an estimated street value of $70,000.