Medicinal cannabis producer and campaigner Tony Bower was arrested last week after police raided his property on NSW's north coast and charged him with cultivating cannabis, dealing in proceeds of crime, possessing prohibited drug, and supplying prohibited drug. He was refused bail.
Bower, the head of Mullaways Medical Cannabis, has been openly supplying medicinal cannabis tinctures to people for years.
In January, Bower was profiled in Dope Magazine and claimed to be supplying 500 people with his cannabis tincture free of charge.
Bower has faced court multiple times over the years, most recently in 2014 when he was sentenced to 12 months in jail for breaching bail after he was first arrested for cultivating cannabis.
Australian HEMP Party president Michael Balderstone described Bower as the "pioneer of medicinal cannabis in Australia" and said this would be a "big hit" for Bower.
"He's been to jail before for showing us how beneficial cannabis can be for epileptic children," said Balderstone via email. "There are hundreds of children dependent on him for their medicine."
Bower's wife, Julie, told BuzzFeed News the raid will affect a lot of people but that police did not take any of the oil he had already made. "There's a little left, so we have that," she said, "but after that's gone we will be in trouble."
New South Wales Police uploaded photos of Bower's property to its Facebook account last week and included photos of cash – money that Julie says came from selling possessions after moving house late last year. "It's not a crime to have money," she said.
Accessibility of medicinal cannabis has been a hot topic since the drug was formally legalised in 2016. While both state and federal governments claim to have working processes in place to access the drug legally, those who already use medicinal cannabis and source it from the black market say the process is far too complicated and not user-friendly.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration estimates less than a thousand people have legal access to the drug, while the University of Sydney's Professor Iain McGregor estimates potentially 100,000 Australians use it in a medical capacity illegally.
Tony Bower faces court again tomorrow.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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