Devon cancer patient freed by judge after being caught growing medical cannabis

  • A group of terminally ill patients formed a cannabis club to help provide pain relief
  • Christopher Ostermeyer was handed a suspended sentence after a judge learned why they were growing the illegal herb
  • Two of the club of four have passed away

A group of cancer patients in Devon banded together to set up a cannabis club to help them cope with their pain.

Christopher Ostermeyer, from Torquay, rented a small industrial unit where three cancer patients, and one multiple sclerosis sufferer, operated a highly sophisticated growing facility in a Brixham warehouse.

Police found four plants in one tent, which were thought to be intended for personal use, and 16 healthy and extremely productive plants in a second growing area.

After their operation was raided, the club informed police that they had grown enough to help with their personal pain relief, despite 250 one gram bags being found.

Drug officers estimated there was a total amount of £16,800 cannabis in potential street value. Ostermeyer, 60, however, was shown leniency by a compassionate judge, who freed the cancer patient on a suspended sentence after hearing how he is still receiving treatment for his cancer, and that two of the other founders of the plantation have since died from their cancers.

The former fisherman had his bowel and bladder removed to try to stop the spread of cancer.

Ostermeyer told police he was recovering from bladder cancer, had set up the operation with three other patients, and they planned to share the drugs to use for pain relief.

He was not represented in court but a probation report confirmed he has extensive medical problems, including the removal of his bowel and bladder, and an injured spine from an industrial accident.

He started using cannabis for pain relief because he did not like the side effects of morphine drugs.

Given there are no aggravating features and you are suffering from a serious medical condition, I am prepared to treat you as someone who shared the product with others suffering from similar conditions.
– Judge Erik Salomonsen

Ostermeyer told the judge: “We had grown two or three lots before. There were four people involved. Two of the others had cancer and the other had MS. It was not being sold.

“My name was on the lease but all buying of the equipment and the costs were shared between the four of us.

“Two of the others have now died.”

Admitting to the production of cannabis and possession with intent to supply, was jailed for six months, suspended for a year, curfewed for two months, and ordered to pay £365 costs.

Explaining the sentence to the cancer patient, Judge Erik Salomonsen said: “You have told me that you and three others were involved and you all suffered serious and debilitating health conditions, particularly cancer, and two have since died.

“Given there are no aggravating features and you are suffering from a serious medical condition, I am prepared to treat you as someone who shared the product with others suffering from similar conditions.” Cannabis prohibition is forcing terminally ill patients to face a grim prospect: live illegally or die legally.

The British Government has a duty to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable. Thankfully a compassionate judge was overseeing this case, but given the law of the land, this extremely vulnerable.

Not only does prohibition force vulnerable members of society to interact with the black market or become criminals, it also costs the UK taxpayer millions to enforce.

According to the Liberal Democrats, over one million hours of police time a year are “wasted enforcing cannabis prohibition.”

Is it time for the UK to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes?