CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Recovering addict is first to be convicted of dealing ‘spice’ after legal highs ban

Court hears that he was sharing drug with other addicts, not selling for profit

10 March, 2017 — By William McLennan

THE first person to be convicted of dealing highly-addictive synthetic cannabis in Camden said he had himself been turned into a desperate “junkie” by the once legal drug.

Fared Gohill pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply of the former legal high – known as “spice” – at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

But his solicitor disputed police claims that he had been selling cigarettes laced with the drug for cash and said he was instead sharing it with fellow addicts at St Martin’s Gardens in Camden Street when he was arrested in July.

His was one of the first arrests for suppling spice in the country after its sale was outlawed in May.

The drug, which was widely used by homeless addicts in Camden Town, had been legally sold from souvenir shops in Camden High Street before the ban.

Speaking outside court, Mr Gohill, who has since got clean and undertaken a restaurant cooking course, told the New Journal it was “hypocritical” that addicts who had once been able to buy the drug over the counter were being prosecuted instead.

“How can they sell it in a shop, create junkies and then all of a sudden they’ve got nothing to do with it and they want to nick you,” he said.

The 45-year-old, who lives in a Camden Town homeless hostel, said: “They created all the people like me that were addicted. I don’t see them coming out and helping nobody. They just want to nick people. Through my faith in God I have stopped, but they have left a lot of people still out there still doing it.”

Asked if he had been aware of the law change at the time of his arrest, Mr Gohill said: “I was in a bad way. I wasn’t reading no signs, I wasn’t listening to nobody. All I wanted to get was that same weed that I was getting before. I wasn’t in the media. I didn’t have no time to look at TV. I just wanted to smoke.

“The state of me was ridiculous. I was smoking all day and all night. I couldn’t go to sleep without it. I was gouching out.”

He said he got clean over the course of three days in August after he made a “promise to my mum and God”.

Mr Gohill added: “Those three days were a nightmare for me. I was throwing up, I was sick in the park, I was in a bad way. I starved myself for three days.”

His solicitor, Anthony Lane, told the court: “Mr Gohill, at the time, had an addiction. While he was handing out or sharing his cigarette laced with spice with others, it was not commercial dealing. He received no financial gain.”

Agreeing to postpone sentencing so that prosecutors could consider his plea, district Judge Maurice Champion said: “He is either supplying it for gain, which is much more serious than a person who is high on spice handing out the cigarettes because he is high.”

Mr Gohill was prosecuted under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which was introduced in May last year and made the sale of synthetic cannabis an offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

Use of the drug remained legal, however, until the Home Office reclassified it as a Class-B substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act in December, meaning police can now arrest users in possession of small quantities of the drug.

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