A lawyer and activist for liberalisation of marijuana is speculating that the ganja cultivation amnesty and the campaign for the next general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will coincide.
Grant Connell made the suggestion on Wednesday at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown.
He was, at the time, mitigating on behalf of Alvin Williams, 46, of Questelles, and Irwin Thomas, 56, who pleaded guilty to charges that on Sept. 4, at Walliabou, they, respectively, had in their possession 1,816 grammes (4lbs) and 4,540 grammes (10lbs) of cannabis with intent to supply.
The men were each charged with possession for having been found in possession of the respective amounts for the purpose of drug trafficking, but Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche withdrew those charges after the defendants accepted the facts.
Williams and Thomas were among five men — and three goats — on board a boat in Walliabou when the Coast Guard intercepted it.
The men each told police the respective parcels of marijuana belonged to them.
In his submission, Connell noted that changes were made to the marijuana law in SVG, as part of the establishment of a medical marijuana industry.
He however, pointed out that the definition of cannabis under the medical marijuana law is the same as under the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act.
The law includes a one-year amnesty on marijuana cultivated illegally, beginning at a point to be determined by the government.
Connell said that if that amnesty were already in place, his clients could have avoided a charge.
“I, Grant Connell, propose that it is going to start in January and run one year at the end of which year — with much money income — … I propose there will be another occasion, and my friend here can elaborate on that,” he said, referring to counsel Carlos James, a government senator.
James, who was not involved in the case, was sitting at the bar table.
James represented the ruling Unity labour Party in the North Leeward in the December 2015 general elections and is likely to be the candidate again next election.
General elections are constitutionally due by March 2021, but are widely expected by December 2020.
Connell noted that his clients had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, thereby not wasting the court’s time.
The lawyer said that Williams, who has 25 years’ experience in the mountains, is one of the 1,500 marijuana farmers who are now being celebrated with the pivot to the medical marijuana industry.
“Yes. Now, why shouldn’t I send him to prison?” Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne told the lawyer.
Connell said that on the day in question, Williams coming from the mountain, had a few goats with him.
He noted that marijuana, a class B drug, and cocaine, a class A drug, carry the same sentence: on summary conviction a sentence of up to seven years in prison and EC$20,000 and, on indictment, 25 years in jail and EC$1.5 million.
In light of the “prima facie spirit and intention of Parliament thus far”, Connell asked the court to “break from the norm of imposing harsh and unconscionable sentences on men like this”.
He suggested that Williams be fined EC$500.
Connell said that based on an affidavit by Junior “Spirit” Cottle, the price per pound of marijuana over the past 30 years has been EC$300, falling to EC$200 when there is a glut.
He said this means that the 10lbs that Thomas has in his possession had a value of EC$2,000.
The lawyer said that like Williams, Thomas is a man of little means and, therefore, imposing a harsh fine would be sending them to jail.
He asked the court to impose the fine “and let your conscience be your guide”.
The lawyer said a man chopped up a woman and get station bail but it is denied for marijuana possession.
“Those who make the laws are not thinking,” he said, holding to James’ shoulder.
“Why you holding on to James?” the chief magistrate said, triggering laughter in the courtroom.
Connell said that with the marijuana cultivation licences being issued, the sector will now be “in the hands of the foreign man”.
The lawyer told the court that a licence had been granted for the cultivation of 300 acres of marijuana.
“More than they can ever imagine,” he said.
In his submission on sentencing, Delplesche told the court that he was not looking for a custodial sentence and suggested a fine according to the men’s means.
For his four pounds of weed, Williams was ordered to pay EC$2,000 forthwith or one year in prison.
For his 10lbs, Thomas was fined EC$6,000, to be paid forthwith, or one year in prison.
iWitness News understands that the men have paid the fine.
Grant Connel seems to be the law unto himself, he proposes sentence and tells the judge what penality fits a crime for possession of cannabis. He even tells what laws will be the order of the next election. What a man.
What Grant Connell proposed as a sentence is not even a slap on the wrist. He forgets that these men broke the law(s). of SVG. If the fine would have been 500 EC as he suggested, we would see such a surge in illegal cannabis and other drug trafficking like never before. It is Connell who is not thinking, not those that make the laws. He seems to have a superiority complex and whenever a problem is noticed he finds a designated enemy to put the blame on, usually when they are involved, he blames white foreigners, not withstanding that he is 95% white himself. Looking at someone’s skin color as a reason is considered a racist attitude. As a man of the law he should be careful in that reguard. In SVG we have to stop our biased attitudes when it concerns justice. We all know that there is at least one judge that has a heavy political bias.
The judge made a very good decision and the perpetrators were able to come up with the money to pay the fine immediately notwithstanding that Grant Connell indicated that they could not!!!
There should be no place for con-artists in the SVG Legal System.
Beverley dear heart, if you want to talk that way, tell us what you think about this.
A white man from Canada gets a license to grow 300 acres of Cannabis in Saint Vincent. There is no telling if when export takes place under this license if when in Canada the stuff will be used for medical use or general use, because smoking it there is legal.
The Canadian company is brand new and never traded, and has no experience or track record in growing or selling Marijuana.
Do you honestly think that is fair on Vincentians, even if you do not approve of the trade?
Dear Jolly, You have obviously never talked to Grant Connell. I suggest you talk to him on-on-one. He has a “hang-up” about Christopher Columbus being white and a foreigner to the Caribbean and projects that to investors in the Caribbean today. I think that Jesus would have a serious talk with Mr. Connell for judging one person according to what a different person does or did; including the fact that values then are not the values today. Even as recent as the 1940s things were different. Winston Churchill advocated extermination of entire races from the Earth. Lookat Mugabe! Connell may judge people by thier skin color and the size of thier wallet, wanting the contents of thier wallet to go into his. Obviously Mr. Connell has political aspirations. Personally I would rather have Jomo Thomas’ questionable Social Values than Grant Connell’s arrogant questionable Social Values. There is so much about Grant Connell that you do not know. If you did you would not defend him. There is much more about him than what he engineers to make it into the press! Many on this site have already proven that when you look up the word “hypocrite” in the dictionary there is a photo of Grant Connell.
It is interesting that some strongly dislike Grant Connell and some admire him. He is a good lawyer before a judge because he knows how to manipulate people. Administratively he is a terrible lawyer. You should hear about some of the cases that do not make it to the newspapers or online. He certainly has a strong bias. I cannot write what it is because my comment may not get published. I find it strange that Jolly Green loves Grant Connell based on Mr Connell’s great friendship with the PM.
On the one hand, I would want to use Mr. Connell as my lawyer but on the other hand I always had a dislike for dishonest people and therefore would not use him.
Jolly Green. Who cares what his skin color is. Who cares what his nationality is. How tall is he? Short people should get priority! What he is going to use it for is his business, if it is legal in that country, more power to him. Great that he paid the MILLIONS for the licence! New company…so what?…What are you implying with that? You do not like Ralph, but you like his very close friend Grant Connell…and they both operate very similarly. You are hard to figure out sometimes.
You are like Grant Connell. If the guy were local and black none of it would matter, provided it were legal here. Stop your prejudice thinking based on skin color and nationality and what it will be used for is his business. Do you want to dictate that too, and he can only use it for what you approve of?
Yes, I think it is fair to Vincentians because if this works it means a lot of jobs. He is leasing the land for top dollar and he cannot leave the island with the land anyway. Unlike you, I do not base my judgement on Skin color, political affiliation or where a person comes from or even what his religion is.
Grant Connell is arguably the best lawyer in St Vincent and the Grenadines;he actually represents his client. The other jokers, sorry, lawyers, don’t even bother to turn up for their court cases.
If Connell is a con artist and saving folks from jail, then let the crusade continue.
Beverly you made me laugh. I concur with you 100 percent. Grant Connell is more than 95 percent while. His ancestors were slave owners.
Grant Connell is a giant among SVG’s lawyers. He has more insight, more humanity, and more common sense than the rest of the bunch put together, so he should be listened to.
Besides that I thought he was great in the part he played in the Blues Brothers film.
Jolly, Mr Connell is exaggerating. You obviously do not know his reputation. I do not even have to research. Where is this 300 acres? Has the government yet spent this 3 Million in licencing fees? I highly doubt that anyone would pay 3 Million before the lands are identified. How many jobs would be created to farm this 300 acres? As you know the law states that other crops MUST also be cultivated on this average. If any of this is true than so be it! SVG is going to benefit greatly! Too bad it is not true. Do not fall for everything someone says or even writes. Saddam has Nuclear Weapons and Mobile Biological Weapons labs! Assad kills his own people but grants amnesty to his enemies that want to kill him.
Jolly the laws as it stands in Canada to obtain a Cannabis licence had no correlation in having a company that is listed on the stock exchange or having the attributes or chracteristics of which you mentioned. Individuals who obtain lisence such as Cannabis stores is given by a lottery draw, that is it hs some randomessential to it. Farmers are al SD o giv n licence to grow Cannabis, having the experience of growing Cannabis is not one of them. I am giving you the factsame as it stands.
With respect to your assertion that Grant Connell is one of the best lawyers in St Vincent is just a fallacy. I can assured you that if Grant Connell was a practising lawyer in Canada, by his own behavior and dictates he would have had his lisence revoke by the law Society of Upper Canada. In other words, Mr.Connell is a big fish in a small pond.
It seems that Raping and killing someone, is more less of a crime than few pounds of weed, you trying to jail a man for some weeds who is trying to feed his family but allow murderers and Rapist to walk around free without any jail time and consequences. Where is the logic? When is Vincentians going to open their eyes and see how twisted and bias the law is and try to submit proposal to rectify it instead of ridiculing, someone who is trying to make a differenced, we cannot allowed biasness to cloud our judgment, the time has come for all of us to implement and make positive changes that will be fair and accurate to all men, no one is above the law
Beverley you are obviously one of the unread ignorant that the comrade so often refers to. The government announced weeks ago approving and issuing the licence. It was published in all news papers, locally, regionally and internationally, and online news sites including this one. It was well debated at the time with a lot of comments. I looked up the people involved in Canada and even looked at the house where they lived. I commented about the company using an accommodation office address used by hundreds of other off the shelf companies
Its all very well you bad mouthing Grant, he is one of the only lawyers who goes to court and takes on cases on a pro-bono basis.
Throwing into the equation Churchill and Columbus, points to you taking instruction from Gonsalves. They have absolutely nothing to do with this current matter. You really are a nasty piece of work and your attempt to tarnish Grant is disgusting. You are so full of spite and hatred that you are blinded against recognising the truth.
Jolly, It just came out, (with a statement from the Prime Minister) that Grant Connell either misunderstands the law, did not read it or misrepresented it. You are right that throwing Columbus into the conversation is weak…THEN WHY DOES GRANT CONNELL DO IT ALL THE TIME! I wonder how many of those pro-bono people are working on Grant Connell’s land today? What else do these young men do for him? Find out what the PM said after Grant Connell’s false public statements!
Now who is the ignorant person here…Me or you!
Jolly, YOU are the real piece of work here! Go back and worship your lawyer idol and stop spreading misinformation or some may suspect that you are Grant Connell!
Jolly why you are referring to people on the site as being ignorant? I mean with respect to Beverly. This forum was meant to be a meeting place where one can have important discussions and dialogue. It was not designed to be a place for name calling. Can you not criticize without name calling? It that’s the case when you criticize without name calling it points to being intelligent.
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