A woman caught with cannabis in a police raid says she uses it to cope with a chronic pain disorder.
Nikita Hubber, 21, was caught with cannabis, bongs and 15 tinnies during a police search of her Blenheim home on July 5. Police said they found 696 grams of cannabis in total.
Hubber told the police it was for her own personal use, though sometimes she gave it to friends. She used it as pain relief for fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder, she said.
Hubber admitted possession of cannabis, possession of cannabis utensils and supplying cannabis at the Blenheim District Court on Monday. Her lawyer Kent Arnott said the pre-sentencing report covered Hubber's background, including her struggle with depression and fibromyalgia. Her ill health prevented her from being able to do community work, but she was already engaged with mental health services, Arnott said.
Judge Mark Callaghan said there was no indication in the report that Hubber intended to stop illegally using cannabis. "What troubles me is there's a refusal to take the medication that's prescribed for her," he said.
Arnott said she preferred cannabis over her medication which had unpleasant side effects.
A report from Hubber's doctor said fibromyalgia was a painful condition and difficult to treat, Judge Callaghan said. Some patients used cannabis to treat symptoms, though it was not advised, he said. "If cannabis is the only way of dealing with your pain, then there are procedures available to you to obtain it legally."
The pre-sentencing report recommended a sentence of supervision, but Judge Callaghan was not convinced Hubber would stop illegally using cannabis on supervision, he said.
Arnott said Hubber had agreed to meet with a doctor to find alternative ways to manage her pain, and with alcohol and drug addiction services to help manage her dependence.
Judge Callaghan sentenced her to 12 months' supervision. "It is an extended period because you need to be monitored for that period of time, because if you keep using cannabis I suspect you'll be back in the courts in a short time." Conditions included counselling or programmes as directed by probation.
5 September 2016
Source: The Marlborough Express
Photo: SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ