Andrew Baines, 46, had faced up to 15 years’ jail for production and supply of a class B drug

A father-of-two caught with more than a kilogram of cannabis has been spared jail after it emerged he only supplied it to cancer patients and the seriously ill.

Hundreds of Andrew Baines’ customers flooded the court with letters explaining how he helped relieve their pain, only making enough money to cover his costs.

The 46-year-old was spared a 15-year sentence after prosecutors decided to pursue him on the lightest possible charge, for which the judge gave him the lowest possible sentence of a six-month community order.

Grimsby Magistrates Court heard how Mr Baines started using cannabis for pain relief himself after a road accident left him wheelchair-bound.

He was arrested in April 2020 after Post Office staff became suspicious of a package he had sent out.

Police raided his home in Lincoln and found a kilogram of cannabis along with more than 30 plants.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially charged him with the supply an production of a Class B drug, but later decided only to prosecute him for the least severe offence in the category: production of up to seven plants.

Becky Hayes, a presenter on BBC Radio Sheffield, whose father used Mr Baines’ cannabis during his final months with throat cancer, was one of several people who wrote to District Judge Geraldine Kelly.

Families of terminaly ill cannabis users praised Mr Baines as the ‘most selfless man’

She said: ‘Andrew travelled a long way to come and see me and dad to talk us through everything.

‘He never charged for his time or asked for anything in return. His knowledge is incredible. He is the most selfless man.’

Others said Mr Baines had changed their lives, and refused offers of payment.

Judge Kelly, who also spared Mr Baines from legal costs, said in her ruling: ‘If the law was different, Mr Baines would have been applauded, not punished.

‘I take the view that a community order is justified in this case, not because of you, but because of the message we must send.’

The father-of-two was handed a six-month community service order and spared legal costs

Mr Baines, who claims disability allowance, told The Times after the verdict: ‘After waiting two years the verdict was a big burden off my shoulders. It’s been a stressful period.

‘The law here is very antiquated. A lot of the opiate-based medication they give people in end-of-life care is pretty horrendous and patients are not really with it.

‘But medical cannabis alleviates pain and patients still get quality time with their families.’

His solicitors described the judgment as a ‘landmark case’ because it recognised ‘the difference between people who are criminally involved in the supply of drugs for profit and someone trying to help people’.

Cannabis was legalised for certain medical purposes almost four years ago, but only three NHS prescriptions have ever been written.

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