A man serving a prison sentence for growing drugs intends to stand in the forthcoming assembly elections. Martin Kelly, from Portadown, was sentenced to nine-months behind bars last November after being convicted of several drugs offences including cultivating cannabis, possession of cannabis, cocaine and cannabis resin.
The 30-year-old was also convicted of possessing a little known drug known as 5-MeO-DALT as well as dishonestly using electricity.
Kelly has previously stood as a candidate in Upper Bann for the pro drug party Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol (Cista) and during the last year’s assembly elections secured 672 votes. He also stood in the 2015 Westminster elections grabbing 460 votes.
Sources say that with remission he will be released from Maghaberry Prison several weeks after the north goes to the polls on March 2.
It is believed Kelly began using cannabis in a bid to control seizures caused by epilepsy and was known to offer advice to others who use drugs for medical reasons.
Cista, which campaigns to have cannabis legalised, is hoping to stand up to seven candidates during the assembly elections. Nominations are due to close on February 8. Cista spokesman Barry Brown said attitudes towards some drugs are changing.
“Public opinion seems to have changed in Northern Ireland on cannabis,” he said. “It’s changing all over the world. I think people are seeing we are putting ourselves out there, we are prepared to risk our own safety and freedom to make the point.”
Mr Brown believes voters will not be put off by Kelly’s conviction if he is permitted to stand as a candidate.
“Martin has stood twice before in the same area and he is well liked and known for what he did,” he said.
By Connia Young - The Irish News/Jan. 20, 2017
Photo: Mal McCann