Taiwan to reduce sentences for growing marijuana for own use after constitutional ruling

The penalty for growing marijuana for one’s own use will be reduced from the current minimum of five years in prison, after the Judicial Yuan deemed such sentences unconstitutional based on the principle of proportionality.

The ruling was made March 20 last year, and lawmakers were given one year to make amendments to the law.

Amendments to the Drug Harm Prevention and Control Regulations will be sent to the Executive Yuan for discussion tomorrow, March 11, according to reports in Liberty Times, and United Daily News.

The new amendments recommend reducing the current minimum sentence from five years, to just one year, as well as reducing the maximum fine for cases where an individual cultivates cannabis for their own use, and not for sale or trafficking.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said today that it is still illegal to grow cannabis, but those who use it for their own purposes or if the circumstances are minor, it is proposed to amend the law to set sentences at a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 1 year but not more than 7 years, according to CNA.

Constitutional Interpretation No. 790 considered that a fixed-term minimum 5-year sentence covered a wide range of circumstances including large-scale cultivation for profit, but for minor cases such as a very small number of plants for self use the penalty is too harsh. The draft amendment was proposed to add lighter penalties for those who grow for their own use with the goal of balancing the scale of the crime with the penalty.

The ruling came after a man named Huang was sentenced to five years in prison for growing six plants on his balcony for his own use. Huang refused to accept the judgement and appealed all the way to the highest court and requested a constitutional interpretation.

Under Taiwan law cannabis is a category two drug, along with drugs such as amphetamines, and cocaine. According to Article 4, Item 2 of the Drug Harm Prevention and Control Regulations, the statutory penalty for manufacturing, transporting and selling marijuana before the amendment is ” Life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of more than seven years is subject to a fine of less than NT$10 million.”

As for the cultivation of marijuana, Article 12, paragraph 2 stipulates: “Those who plant marijuana for the purpose of manufacturing drugs, will be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of more than five years, and a fine of less than NT$5 million.”

Constitutional Interpretation N0.790 found that “for those who committed the crime with minor circumstances, there is no provision for mitigating their sentence or making another appropriate sentence. Within this scope, the restriction on personal freedom does not comply with the principle of equivalence and proportionality of crimes and punishments,” according to Apple Daily.

“Relevant agencies should make amendments in accordance with the interpretation intent within one year. If the circumstances are not corrected within the time limit, the court may reduce the statutory sentence to 1/2 in accordance with the interpretation intent,” the ruling stated.

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3 thoughts on “Taiwan to reduce sentences for growing marijuana for own use after constitutional ruling

  • March 11, 2021 at 9:51 am

    This is another “baby step” in the right direction, but I would say just take the big leap and legalise it. Cannabis has many legitimate medical uses, but Big Pharma has always been against it because of its known effectiveness and possible competitiveness. There is “real crime” out there, and to divert police and judicial resources to this falls into Big Pharma’s trap. There is also “real harm” out there due to chemically concocted drugs. Not to mention alcohol, the massive production and distribution of which somehow always gets a free pass.

  • March 16, 2021 at 8:01 am

    8000 BCE (Ancient Taiwan)

    In 1977 Carl Sagan proposed the possibility that Taiwanese marijuana agriculture may have actually been the world’s first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself.

    • March 16, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      I removed the link to the article in your comment because it incorrectly says that the Yuanshan site is in China. It’s actually in Taiwan, not China. “The earliest archaeological record of the use of fiber from Cannabis was in China twelve thousand-years ago. Archaeologist unearthed an old Neolithic site at Yuan-Shan, and among the remains dug up included pottery with hemp cord markings on it…”

      I’ll be happy to reinstate the link if the author corrects his article.


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