As reported by Cancard
Cancard reports that one of their card holders and well known cannabis experts, Andrew Baines, will face no custodial charges because he was saving peoples lives.
Cancard, a medical cannabis ID designed in collaboration with police, assisted Andrew in securing the services of Cancard solicitor Hannah Sampson of Sampson Bailey. This service was as part of his Cancard membership.
This is a precedent setting case and one that forces the hand of legislators to make access to cannabis easier, away from the likes of county lines and criminal gangs.
Andrew Baines, 46, a father of two and a cannabis patient himself, had been using his qualifications in cannabis science to illegally supply patients with medicine to treat their cancer and life-changing illnesses. This prevented vulnerable people from accessing potentially dangerous products from criminals on the streets. Andrew maintained detailed patient records and has treated thousands of people in need without taking any money for his services.
Mr Baines was caught by police with a large amount of cannabis (almost a kilo) and 30 plants at his property in January of 2020. He was charged with both supply and production of a class B drug under the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971.
Speaking of his arrest Andrew said: ‘As soon as they understood what I was doing the police were brilliant with me, I was not handcuffed and I was treated not as a criminal but as a human being. The police get a lot of stick but in my case they were great and it’s a clear indication that they did not sign up to arrest people trying to help others’
The combination of charges could have seen him serve a maximum of 30 years to life in prison. However, despite an open admission and a huge amount of evidence, CPJ refused to pursue a prison sentence following hundreds of letters from those whom Mr Baines had helped.
In a case that made history, today in Grimsby his case was heard with compassion and Mr Baines was given the lowest possible punishment, a 6 month community order with no costs to pay, this is owing to the hundreds of patients who came out in support of the accused.
Carly Barton founder of Cancard who supported the case said: ‘I salute the CPS and the CPJ in this case who made the fair decision not to imprison Andrew for providing access to life-changing medicine for people in
need. Andrew has improved the lives of thousands of people who were sent home to die. The alternative for those people was to access these medicines via the criminal market which pours money into county lines and causes harm.
Experts like Andrew are few and far between. Currently they are bridging the gap that our healthcare system is not providing. Now we need to look at better access schemes so that those who need it can access cannabis, and, so that our experts, like Andrew, are able to utilise their specialisms legally. Currently our most knowledgeable scientists are operating underground and this makes no sense.’
Hundreds of testimonials were written on behalf of Andrew to support his case. Belinda Williams was diagnosed with incurable liver cancer and was sent home to prepare for her death when her husband made contact with Andrew.
Her husband Russ says: ‘I made contact with Andy and our lives have not been the same since. Andy did not hesitate and set about helping us. We offered to pay him, but he refused point-blank. We are now 13 months on and I am pleased to report that all 6 of my wife’s tumours have gone and just this week we were given the all clear. Our NHS oncologist is in shock’.
Seven year old Oscar, who has a diagnosis of autism and lennox-gastaut syndrome, was suffering from hundreds of seizures a day which were making him increasingly disabled. Oscar’s mother Emma speaks of the change since they have been using Andy’s medicine.
‘If it wasn’t for Andy our son would be in a wheelchair, it’s thanks to Andy that he is walking. We also have the backing of Oscar’s neurologist. Oscar’s school and family members are blown away by his progress’.
BBC radio presenter Becky Hayes speaks about Andrew’s assistance with providing palliative care to her late father during his final months following a throat cancer diagnosis.
‘He travelled a long way to come and see myself and my dad to talk us through everything. He never charged for his time or asked for anything in return. His knowledge is incredible, he is the most selfless man and I can’t quite believe there are people in this world like him. He continued to stay in contact with my family providing invaluable support and again made a long journey to see my father when he was near the end. This will never be forgotten by my family’.
This case comes four years after the law was passed to allow access to medicinal cannabis. So far only three prescriptions have been written by the NHS and access still sits solely with costly private clinics which are unattainable for most. It is estimated that approximately 1.4 million patients in the UK are self sourcing cannabis to treat medical conditions.
Over 50,000 of these patients are members of Cancard, a scheme that has prevented charges for over 2000 people since it began last year. Andrew’s case sets precedent for future cases of medicinal use and demonstrates the need for legislative change.