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June 25, 2017

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American man sentenced to 4 years for growing cannabis

TAIPEI -- An American national, who has lived in Taiwan for 10 years, was found guilty on Friday of growing cannabis in his residence in Changhua County and sentenced to four years in jail.

The Taiwan Changhua District Court handed down the sentence after finding that the defendant, identified as 37 year-old Mark Alan Cartwright violated the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, in which marijuana is listed as a category-two narcotic.

Under the law, offenders who manufacture, transport, or sell category-two narcotics are subject to between seven years in jail and life imprisonment and can be fined up to NT$10 million dollars (US$334,000).

According to the court ruling, Cartwright was nabbed by Changhua police in April during a raid on his home in a residential building in Yuanlin Township.

The police seized 286 cannabis plants, four bags of cannabis blossoms and one bag of cannabis extract paste in the operation.

During the trial, Cartwright defended himself by claiming that selling and using marijuana are allowed in some other countries and areas and that the marijuana he produced was only used for medical purposes and was not sold in the drug market.

The arguments failed to persuade the presiding judge, who said the American man has lived in Taiwan for a decade, long enough for him to know that growing, manufacturing or using marijuana in this country is illegal, the court said.

Given that the defendant had a clean criminal record in Taiwan except for driving under the influence of alcohol, and showed remorse for his actions, the judge gave him a lighter penalty than required by law, according to the verdict.

Sentencing the defendant to jail was still necessary, however, because of the possible hazardous effects of the drug he produced, the court said.

The ruling can be appealed.

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