Justice Ken Nielsen should be disbarred or, at the very least, asked to take a long unpaid vacation to think about what he’s done.
The Edmonton judge sentenced a non-violent man with Crohn’s Disease to 15 months in jail. The reason? Selling medical cannabis cookies to patients.
Mitchell Scott Ennis asked to serve out his sentence under house arrest since he is the primary caregiver of his five-year-old daughter.
But Justice Nielsen showed little remorse. He dropped the initial 25-month sentence by ten months, but that’s still over a year behind bars for cannabis. And now a little girl is without a father. How will this experience shape her psyche? The drug war breeds distrust and disrespect for the law.
Despite receiving 55 letters of reference written to vouch for Ennis’ character, and the fact that he was selling medical cannabis for humanitarian reasons, not to mention Liberal legalization on the horizon, Justice Nielsen still decided to punish him.
He said the “trafficking” still had a commercial element as if making money and recouping financial costs is unethical. He also said he needed to base the sentence on current laws. Never mind the ability for him to give an absolute discharge, as many British Columbian judges have done.
Despite an accidental NDP government, Alberta is supposedly more conservative. Therefore, selling medical cannabis edibles goes unnoticed in BC while in Alberta things are different.
But why are they different? Licensed producers are legal in Alberta, they’re allowed to sell edibles.
Does a federal license really dictate morality?
If LPs recognize the injustice of this situation, perhaps they’ll work to make amends, as Alberta’s LP Aurora seems so intent on doing. They can start by financing a campaign to appeal this decision and reunite a man and his five-year-old daughter.
In the meantime, why should we respect a political and judicial system where one branch lies to get in power while the other destroys lives for the sake of outdated and racist legislation?
But so it goes in a nation that respects politicians more than entrepreneurs.
Perhaps the chants of “lock them up” are starting to make sense to those who would otherwise disregard this populist anger as uneducated fascism.
The system is rigged, innocent people are thrown in prison alongside rapists, murderers, and thieves. And for what? Selling a good that only others can legally provide?
I ask again, does a federal license really dictate morality? Does might make right?
Here is Justice Ken Nielsen’s contact information, let him know what you think.
The law is always open to interpretation, there are no normatively neutral interpretations. How judges interpret the rules of law are always determined by their underlying moral and political beliefs.
And as podcaster Joe Rogan is famous for saying, if you lock someone up for a plant, that makes you the criminal. Mitchell Scott Ennis is not the lawbreaker.
The police, justice, and everyone involved with his arrest and imprisonment are.