33-year-old Arthur Liwembe took a baggie of cannabis to a police station in Dublin. His problem was that the drug “was not of good quality”, and he wished to file a complaint.

The flag of Malawi

The flag of Malawi

No prison sentence, but he is set for deportation

Liwembe hails from Malawi and resides at an asylum seekers’ reception centre. He pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis at Dublin District Court. He escaped a spell in prison, instead being instructed to carry out 200 hours of community service. He is, however, destined for deportation by June 26. Judge John Hughes remarked that Liwembe’s behaviour was “illogical to say the least.” He also stated that Liwembe appeared to be “looking to be arrested”. The police suggested this was the product of cannabis-induced psychosis.

Liwembe had gone to Kilmainham Garda Station on 10 July 2018 with a bag of cannabis that cost £10. Garda Foley commented, “He said he had bought the drugs and believed them not to be of good quality, and that was why he attended the garda station.”

Liwembe’s story

Upon being searched, Liwembe was found to be carrying a box-cutter knife. His legal representative, Anne Fitzgibbon, claimed he used this while working as a handyman. He was once a student nurse. He came from Malawi in 2012. His visa ran out and he applied for residency because he had fathered a child in Eire. Garda Foley told the judge that he believed Liwembe was suffering from problems. Liwemba was, surprisingly, not immediately arrested. That only occurred when he returned on a later date, asking for the return of his knife. Denial of his request caused him to turn aggressive.

Fitzgibbon declared that Liwembe felt concern that the cannabis, not being of good quality, might “be detrimental to other people’s health”. She added that he had had “a very difficult upbringing” but no longer took cannabis. He wishes to stay in the Oirish Republic and might appeal.

His sins didn’t end there

Liwembe admitted to trespassing repeatedly at an address at Tyrconnell Road in Inchicore where he once lived and worked. He damaged a door on one occasion. Gardai found him in a bedroom where he was “just trying to sleep”. He was under the “misapprehension that he still lived there”.

Cannabis in Malawi

Malawi is one of the largest producers of cannabis in southern Africa. In the late 1990s, the United Nations estimated that the drug occupies much as 385,000 acres (1,560 square kilometres) of the country. There, cannabis goes by the name of “chamba”. Women cultivate it while men market it. Some strains are, per the World Bank, not just “good quality” but among “the best and finest” in the world.

There has been an increase in marijuana tourism in Malawi. The economic benefits of cannabis don’t end there: the strain Malawi Gold is regarded as one of the three “Big Cs” of Malawian exports: chamba, chambo (Tilapia fish) and chombe (tea). Legends about Malawi Gold’s potency have sprung up. It’s believed that cannabis accounts for 0.2 percent of Malawi’s GDP, with the drug mostly exported rather than consumed locally.

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