A Whangarei man who ran a "cannabis club" may have strong views about decriminalising the illegal drug but he was obliged to follow the law, a judge said.
Judge Duncan Harvey made the comment when sentencing Daktory Social Club's Brian Thomas Borland in the Whangarei District Court yesterday after he was found guilty by a jury of cultivating cannabis, selling cannabis oil and another of permitting premises to be used for growing cannabis.
For not following the law Borland was sentenced to four years and nine months' jail.
The 60-year-old and Sarah Gwenneth Gillgren, 28, were charged following a raid by police at the club premises in the Port Rd industrial area in January this year.
Gillgren also appeared for sentencing yesterday but it was put off so a home detention address could be checked.
She will now be sentenced on December 5.
Crown prosecutor Jarred Scott said cannabis cultivation at the club premises had been going on for about two years prior to the police bust early this year.
Police recovered 65 plants with a yield of between $9600 and $19,500 and a number of items consistent with cannabis cultivation such as snaplock bags.
Borland's lawyer Kelly Ellis said he considered himself a "political activist" who campaigned to decriminalise cannabis for medicinal purposes rather than profit from its cultivation and use.
She said decriminalising cannabis for medicinal use was a live political issue and referred to the new Government's position on it but Judge Harvey said that argument did not help in the sentencing process.
Borland and his supporters have previously smoked cannabis outside the Whangarei law courts as well as the Whangarei police station.
Ms Ellis said although such action constituted civil disobedience, political change often followed such courses.
Judge Harvey believe Borland's actions were not just altruistic but he benefited financially from the drug cultivation from the club members buying cannabis.
"Whatever your beliefs are on cannabis, you're obliged to obey the law and if you don't, there are consequences. Everyone is entitled to protest. Everyone is entitled to demonstrate, but no one is entitled to break the law," the judge said.
With 25 previous convictions for cannabis-related offences, including eight for cultivation, Judge Harvey said Borland neither wished to engage in rehabilitative programmes nor accept the consequences of what he did.