Cancer Patients Defend Man Caught Homegrowing Cannabis

Stephen Andrews
25 May 2022

Lincoln man caught with over a kilogram of cannabis, including 30 plants valued at £10K, evades a 15-year prison sentence in a landmark court ruling. The man reportedly used cannabis to produce oil and help cancer patients in need. In the case's aftermath, the man was given the lowest possible punishment, a six-month community order. All thanks to hundreds of patients he had helped and who now wrote to the court on the man's behalf, himself a cancer patient, justifying why he shouldn't face any time in jail.

Andrew Baines, 46, father of two, distributed medicinal cannabis oil to hundreds of cancer patients and faced a possible charge of possession with intent and production of a controlled substance. 

Mr Baines was spared a 15-year sentence in a ruling at Grimbsy Magistrates' Court. Judge Sue Fortune, who oversaw the case, said: "If the law was different, Mr Baines would have been applauded, not punished. I take the view that a community order is justified in this case, not because of you, but because of the message we must send".

The court received hundreds of testimonials from people who Mr Baines had helped with his oil to treat cancer symptoms. 

According to The Independent, one of the patients, named Belinda Williams, was diagnosed with incurable liver cancer but said she was all-clear months after administrating medicinal cannabis supplied from Baines. 

Her husband, Russ Williams, said in a statement: "I made contact with Andy and our lives have not been the same since. Andy did not hesitate and set about helping us".

He added: "We offered to pay him, but he refused point-blank. We are now 13 months on, and I am pleased to report that all six of my wife's tumours have gone, and just this week we were given the all-clear".

Mr Baines is a holder of "Cancard", the medical ID card recognised by the police, which validates that a person consumes cannabis for medical reasons. 

The UK legalised medicinal cannabis in late 2018, however, prescriptions are given only by specialists and for patients who do not respond to conventional treatment. In general, cannabis is rarely prescribed on the NHS, and patients are often left to seek the medicine from illegal sources. 

Commenting after the ruling, Mr Baines said: "The outcome was good, but it's just frustrating that it's not legalised yet".

His solicitor, Hannah Sampson, said: "I've never seen a six-month community order imposed. If you steal a sandwich from Tesco you get 12 months".

She added: "Cases like this are fundamental in taking this back down to grassroots so the police and the prosecution are marking the right decisions.

"They have to differentiate between the medical cases and the county lines cases, where people are trying to profit on the black market of illegal substances, and at the moment the law doesn't allow for a difference between the two to be drawn".

Cannabis remains a class B drug in the U.K. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is one of the rare officeholders who stand in favour of legalisation. However, he has not been met with the same level of enthusiasm from either Tories or Labour. While the U.K. is not making much significant progress in terms of legalisation, the momentum is building in Europe, and U.K. officials just might regret they are not responding any faster to establish a regulation that would work for all. 

Stephen Andrews