I’ve never been in any trouble with the law, and I’ll be 56 in June. I live out in the bush, about 3 hours from Dubbo.
At the end of last year I was charged with possession of a small amount of cannabis, and to be honest, I panicked.
I use cannabis to help relieve the side effects and symptoms of my HIV, and I also have a skin cancer problem. The police told me I had to go to court, and all I could think was that I might go to jail. I talked to my social worker and Jackie, bless her, referred me to HALC.
Although HALC were unable to send a solicitor all the way out to Dubbo to attend court, they helped me a lot to prepare. Best of all, they reassured me that I was not going to jail. They contacted my doctor for me and obtained a supporting letter for the court. My doctor knows that I suffer from nausea, insomnia and lack of appetite. I use cannabis to help with these symptoms. My solicitor also suggested that I ask my neighbour, an older lady that I help out by doing her shopping and odd jobs to write a letter of support to show that I am of good character.
I was really worried that my HIV would be mentioned in court, as it is something I keep private. My solicitor at HALC prepared a short letter for me to hand up to the Magistrate explaining that I wanted my medical information kept private.
On the day of court, I felt well prepared. I told the Magistrate that I was pleading guilty, and handed up the letters from my doctor and neighbour and the one from HALC about keeping my HIV private. The Magistrate told me that after reading my references, and taking into account that I’d stayed out of trouble for 55 years, he was going to give me another chance and did not give me a conviction. I am now working with my doctors to find a better way of managing my symptoms so I don’t end up in this situation again.
[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]
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