‘I don’t know it as cannabis, I know it as African tobacco weed’

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but cannabis by any other name might not be illegal — no matter how it smells.

Whether one calls a green herbal substance cannabis or “African tobacco weed” proved crucial at a hearing in Cork District Court yesterday.

Joao Geraldo was not even present in court for the case against him, where he was charged with being in possession of cannabis for his own use.

Garda Ruth Healy said she was dealing with an incident shortly after midnight on February 7, 2015. She was taking a complaint from a woman about an alleged incident at her home on Shandon St, Cork.

With the invitation of the injured party, gardaí entered the apartment.

Garda Healy said that when she entered the apartment, she saw a man in the kitchen holding a clear plastic bag which contained a green herbal material.

A search was then conducted but nothing further was found.

The man with the bag, Joao Geraldo, with an address at Edward Walsh Road, Togher, Cork, was questioned about the matter.

A memo of this was read in court yesterday where he said that the substances in his possession were African tobacco weed.

Questioned on a later occasion, Garda Healy put it to the accused that gardaí had identified the substances as cannabis.

Mr Geraldo replied: “I only know it as African tobacco weed. I don’t know it as cannabis.”

Diarmuid Kelleher, defending, submitted that the case should be dismissed against Mr Geraldo in the absence of certified proof that the substance was cannabis.

The solicitor said that Mr Justice Charleton had ruled that, in a case such as that before the court yesterday, it would be sufficient proof if the defendant had admitted knowing the substance was cannabis, but he said there was no such admission in this case, and no proof that the substance was cannabis.

Judge Olann Kelleher yesterday agreed and dismissed the case against Mr Geraldo.


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