Irish Farmer Avoids Jail Time for Producing Cannabis for Seriously Ill Customers

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A farmer in Ireland who was arrested for growing and selling cannabis from his farm received a suspended sentence. Currently, cannabis is illegal in Ireland, except within a limited medical program.

James Sinnott, a sheep farmer in Ireland who grew and distributed cannabis, was charged last month with three counts of possession of cannabis and avoided a two-year jail sentence (1).

“I have helped hundreds of people over the years,” Sinnott told reporters (1). “We helped people with Crohn’s disease, MS, cancer, people with brain tumors. And, over 10 years, I never made one penny out of it.”

Sinnott claims he sold the oil at cost price or gave it away for free to customers who could not afford it.


According to the website for the Garda (the Irish police): “It is an offence to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis except in accordance with a Ministerial Licence,” (2). “Policy to date has not permitted the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes and no licences have been issued for this activity.”

Sinnott said he became involved in growing and distributing cannabis more than a decade ago, after his father developed three forms of cancer. When their original supply of cannabis oil became unavailable, Sinnott started producing it himself. He said they used every part of the plant to make the oil, including the roots. He also distributed some of the plants to his customers and instructed them on how to make the oil themselves.

“I have the height of respect for the judge and guards,” Sinnott said. “They’re applying the law as is stands in the best way that they can. But that’s why the law needs to be changed. Cannabis oil should be supplied to the people in this country like it is in other jurisdictions without seriously ill people having to go through hell to get it. Even if it doesn’t work for everyone, and I’m not saying it does, at least give people the chance to try it for themselves.”

While the judge believed Sinnott’s choice to break the law to help ill patients was misguided, he did acknowledge that he made no profit from it and imposed a suspended two-year jail term on the condition of good behavior (1).

“To me, when I was in court, facing five to seven years, it meant nothing to me compared to all the years we have given back to people while we were doing this,” said Sinnott. With his conviction and the publicity, he can no longer make the oil and worries that his customers will turn to “con artists” who could be selling overpriced or false products (1).

For more resources on cannabis laws in Ireland please see: and