Douglas Tau was charged with one count of possession of cannabis, which under the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004, carries a maximum penalty of a term of two years’ imprisonment for two years or a fine not exceeding $5000 - or both.
For Crown Law, Ritua Talissa Koteka said though that the amount of cannabis found was small, the offence was still serious and of increasing concern in the Cook Islands.
Defence counsel Norman George asked that the defendant be discharged without conviction as he was 36 years of age and had not had any previous convictions. Tau was also a successful businessman, he said.
The court heard that on November 28, 2014 a search warrant was executed on the defendant’s home in Upper Tupapa where police found pots containing eight cannabis plants, one clear plastic container containing dried cannabis and one glass container also containing dried cannabis.
Justice Potter said Tau admitted being the owner of the dried cannabis but denied being the owner of the cannabis plants. She acquitted the defendant on the cultivation charge.
She said Tau had pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of cannabis and the court had received helpful submissions from both the Crown and Tau’s lawyer, describing the defendant as a person with considerable promise, with a good education and background. He also operated a successful business.
Justice Potter said Tau was remorseful and apologetic. He acknowledged his wrongdoing, had sought counseling for drug abuse and had the full support of his family and the community.
However, she said she did not approve a discharge without conviction as drug offending was a serious crime within the Cook Islands jurisdiction.
As a condition of his probation, Tau must abstain from consumption of non-prescribed drugs and attend counseling or workshops as directed by Probation Services. He must also not leave the Cook Islands without the approval of the High Court. He was ordered to pay $30 court costs.