"IF you are caught planting cannabis sativa plants, do not expect any mercy from the courts."
This warning from High Court judge Justice Salesi Temo followed the sentencing of a Kadavu man to 15 years imprisonment after admitting to a count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.
In sentencing Nemani Ratuyawa at the High Court in Suva yesterday, Justice Temo said the sentence was a warning to all those cultivating cannabis sativa plants throughout the country
The court heard that on January 25, 2012, the Kadavu Police Station received information that some youths were cultivating illicit drugs at Nukulekaleka farm in Naikorokoro, Kadavu.
The police, after a boat patrol and search, uprooted 221 plants with a total weight of 69.5kg.
In mitigation, the accused informed the court that he was remorseful and asked for the court's leniency because he wanted to go overseas.
However, Justice Temo took into account the fact that this was the biggest amount of cannabis sativa case to come before the High Court.
He told the court that it was well accepted that the use of marijuana in our community had brought about nothing but miseries to a lot of families.
Justice Temo also said part of the reason the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2004 was passed was to combat and discourage youths from planting marijuana plants near iTaukei villages.
Ratuyawa will serve a prison term of 14 years before being eligible for parole.