The Supreme Court is reviewing the “presumption of supply” in the Misuse of Drugs Act, which presumes that anyone caught with more than 28 grams – or 10 plants or 100 cigarettes – is guilty of having it for supply unless they can prove otherwise.
Paul Rodney Hansen, 50, and another man were found at Hansen’s Glenorchy home in May 2003 manicuring a freshly harvested crop of outdoor cannabis. The cannabis weighed 1.8kg and Hansen admitted half was his, saying it was his annual supply. He was convicted in Invercargill District Court last March of possessing cannabis for supply and sentenced to three years’ jail, which was reduced to 2 1/2 years on appeal.
Hansen’s lawyer, Sonia Vidal, told the Supreme Court there was no evidence her client had been selling cannabis. She told the court laws prescribing personal use as one month’s supply were unrealistic, as a cultivator growing outdoor plants could harvest cannabis only once a year. Under the Bill of Rights Act, people accused of crimes were presumed innocent until proven guilty, she said.
The five-judge bench reserved its decision. When the decision is released, it will be made available online at the Ministry of Justice’s Judicial Decisions Online
(NORML News Autumn 2006)
UPDATE: the Supreme Court ruled in dismissing Hansen that “Even though s 6(6) of the Misuse of Drugs Act is inconsistent with the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law, and is not redeemed by s 5 of the Bill of Rights Act, s 4 of that Act requires that the appeal be dismissed.”