Judge hits out at disparity in smoking fines

A DISTRICT Court judge has hit out at unbalanced smoking fines, whereby smoking a cannabis cigarette can get you a maximum fine of €100, while smoking a Sweet Afton cigarette can incur a maximum fine of €3,000.

Judge David Anderson, when dealing with a case in Gorey District Court, said that smoking a normal cigarette can incur a maximum fine 30 times larger than the maximum fine for smoking cannabis.

He made his comments during a case where Steven Fynes, of the Stable, Ballygarrett, Gorey, Co Wexford, was charged with unlawful possession of drugs at Main Street, Gorey, on July 6 last.

The court had been told by Sergeant Delahunty that he had observed the defendant smoking a hand-rolled cigarette at 4.15pm on the day in question. The defendant had admitted it was cannabis for his own use.

However, Judge Anderson opted not to convict, noting that the maximum fine for smoking cannabis on the street or in the pub was just €100. He went on to point out the maximum fine for smoking a legal cigarette such as the Sweet Afton is €3,000.

Referring to the disparity he said, he hoped there would be some balance in the law some day.

He gave Fynes the benefit of the Probation Act.

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