- An Irish father escaped jail despite being found with 16 cannabis plants
- Derek White grew the plants for his Crohn’s and his son’s Autism
- The plants were a high CBD low THC strain
- This is the first time an Irish court has recognised medicinal use as a defence
An Irish father who grew cannabis to extract into a medicinal oil for himself and his son received a fully suspended sentence earlier today, 22 Feb 2019.
Derek White, from Dublin, pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful possession of cannabis’ at his home on July 11, 2016.
Despite being found with 16 cannabis plants in a grow tent, White made Irish law history by successfully using medicinal use of cannabis as a defence, potentially setting a precedent for future cases.
Gardaí (Irish police) searched White’s house after discovering a small amount of cannabis in his car, finding the plants in a tent upstairs. The police valued the plants at €12,800.
White was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but Judge Cormac Quinn suspended the entirety of the sentence, providing he ‘keeps the peace and be of good behaviour’ for a period of two years.
Despite cultivating cannabis being illegal in Ireland, White was shown sympathy by Judge Quinn due to the plants being grown to make medicine for his Crohn’s and his son’s Autism.
White explained to us how his son’s Autism sparked his medical cannabis journey, thanking the judge for his compassion:
“Everything came down to the judge. Thankfully, he entertained all the evidence we presented, proving the cannabis was for my Crohn’s and my son’s autism.
“That’s how I started on my medical cannabis journey, in 2015.
“Due to my son’s Autism, he was going through a tough stage in life. He was quite aggressive and wasn’t able to channel his frustration.
“We tried a few different CBD supplements, but they didn’t work.
“We were introduced to a strain of cannabis called CD-1, which is high in CBD and very low in THC.
“After just a few weeks of oils I made myself using CD-1, we saw a positive change!”
White and his barrister were able to present lab reports from the cannabis he was growing, as well as the oil he was making, including information on the percentages of THC and CBD.
Pieter Le Vert, White’s barrister, was able to use these reports to demonstrate that his client was growing cannabis “specifically designed to not get one high.”
“We were able to present evidence of lab test results from both the oil and from the flowers I was growing,” Derek explained.
“From the oil, the results showed there was 60.15% CBD and 4.5% THC.
“It’s such an amazing strain, I never had bad results from it, it really helps both me and my child.”
“After just a few weeks of using CD-1 we saw a positive change!”
– Derek White, Father and History Maker
The low-THC content, coupled with a lack of trappings of wealth in the house, convinced Judge Quinn that White was not supplying others or benefiting financially, that his motivation was medicinal and that he is the sole carer of a son on the autistic spectrum.
“I think that’ll set a precedent,” said White, “especially as national news has picked my story up.”
“It’s now been accepted in court now that CBD is medicinal, and there’s a difference between recreational and medical cannabis.
“It’s first time in Ireland they’ve recognised and accepted the argument. I’m so relieved.”
White now relies on buying hemp, legal in Ireland and the UK, in bulk to extract and make a similar oil for medicinal purposes.
Derek White’s inspiring battle to help his son may have altered the course of medical cannabis in Ireland.
With a judge accepting that the cannabis he was growing was for medicinal use, rather than recreational, could help other patients facing prosecution for growing their own medicine.
Should the British judicial system maintain its current stance on medical cannabis, pursuing prosecution against patients in similar situations to White and his son?