20-year-old David Fowler ended up in court in South Shields for possession of cannabis. His solicitor, Greg Flaxen, declared that his client would keep smoking cannabis in spite of this because he believed it benefited his health. Fowler, of Silkstun Court, Silksworth, Sunderland in South Tyneside, uses cannabis to relieve his diagnosed Tourette’s syndrome and not to make himself high.

In the absence of a photo of the Magistrate's Court in South Shields, heres one of the town hall. Photo: Chabe01

In the absence of a photo of South Shields Magistrate’s Court, heres one of the town hall. Photo: Chabe01

Fowler got busted when he was the backseat passenger of a car stopped by coppers in Silksworth on Thursday February 4 2021. According to Clare Irving, prosecuting: “At 8.55pm officers inspected the vehicle, and there’s a strong smell of cannabis.” Fowler is in the habit of smoking cannabis to the tune of £50 each day, necessitating bulk purchases of the stuff. He admitted that every speck of cannabis found in the car belonged to him: “There were full admissions.” Flaxen described him as “a gentleman who has not previously been before the court.”

Flaxen added that Fowler had made a guilty plea “at the earliest opportunity”, although “I would have thought a cannabis warning could have been offered at the police station.” He remarked that his client was smoking cannabis every single day: “He has Tourette’s: he has the tics; he has outbursts.” Cannabis, however, calms him, which Flaxen termed “one positive of cannabis” (and there are plenty more). In addition, it reduces the severity of the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for which he has also been diagnosed. Flaxen suggested, “You can consider a discharge, either absolute or conditional.” Alas, his entreaty was rejected. He added, “I would be wrong to say that he is not going to continue with it.” Per Flaxen, given the choice between protecting his health and breaking the law, Fowler had evidently chosen the former.

John Price chaired the magistrate’s bench. He admitted that while we were talking about just a teeny bit of cannabis, he was “concerned” with how much Fowler got through and how much this cost. He conceded that Fowler pled guilty and was on benefits.

Fowler landed a fine of £80 plus £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge despite there being no victim. Naturally, he lost the dope. There was an article concerning the matter in the Sunderland Echo.

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