The Kelly van Gaalen case

The Kelly van Gaalen is featuring on The Nation. Kelly was sentenced to two years in prison for “possession for supply” of cannabis. It’s a disgraceful case.

Now on the exclusive story of Kelly van Gaalen, NZer of the Year nominee imprisoned on drugs charges. Do we need to law change?

Yes.

van Gaalen talks of her “shame” at being caught with two cannabis plants after invasion of her home… worth a two year prison sentence?

No way.

van Gaalen was charged with “supply” cos she had 28 grams + of cannabis… She insists it was for personal use. Should law presume supply?

Even fmr MP now Far North mayor John Carter says van Gaalen was mistreated by the law. Is this a tipping point for NZ?

Or are the calls for drug reform mixing the ‘just say no’ message? Should we hold the hard line against drugs?

This case may have been a tipping point, Government attitudes seem to be changing, but change looks to be very slow still, at best.

Kelly spent time in prison until her case was appealed and quashed. In a retrial the same judge sentenced her to 5 months community service. But much damage to judicial credibility had already been done.

As an insignificant aside, I think I saw Your NZ quoted in The Nation’s coverage.vanGaalenTheNation.jpg

The Nation report and video: Calls for drug law changes after mother jailed

Previous posts on this:

31 Comments

  1. Kevin

     /  16th April 2016

    I find it very difficult to believe that it was all for her personal use. 28 grams is a lot and she had over 28 grams. You would need to be a complete stoner to need even close to that amount.

    In my opinion the cops and the court are right. She was dealing. If it was just for her personal use she would have made damn sure she knew the law and kept her personal stash well below 28g.

    • the problem is 28g isnt that much, Medical Patients can go through that a week if the supply is plentifull, and they are afflicted with something horrid like CRPS or end stage MS.

      • Kevin

         /  16th April 2016

        If a patient is going through 28g of weed a week they’re better of just taking THC.

    • Gezza

       /  16th April 2016

      Here’s a more detailed report from NewsHub than was available earlier:
      http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/calls-for-drug-law-changes-after-mother-jailed-2016041612#axzz45wb0e1Jp

      • Gezza

         /  16th April 2016

        Judge John McDonald, who handed down the original two year sentence also presided over the retrial, this time reducing the sentence to five months community detention.
        He did offer to stand aside at the second trial but Ms van Gaalen said she didn’t hold any grudges.
        “He’s only human like you and me.”

        She should have asked him to step aside. Too late now.

  2. @kevin
    well that your short-sighted opinion

    The report said the cops found ‘there was NO evidence of her being a dealer.’ The amount she had was equivalent to half an ounce a week (14 grams). BUT she grew it in one amount, for her personal use over one year.

    The unfortunate thing.. she agreed to plead ‘Guilty’ at her retrial, to get it ‘over & done with’. She is now on home detention.

    • Kevin

       /  16th April 2016

      Under the law if you get caught with over 28g you’re presumed to have been dealing. If it was solely for her personal use then any defence lawyer would have told the judge that the cannabis was for the defendant’s personal user over one year. Obviously the judge, being a judge, was clever enough not to buy it.

      • Gezza

         /  16th April 2016

        2 plants properly dried is easily just a one year supply for a moderate daily smoker, especially if they socialise and “pass one around” among friends.

      • With that reasoning.. its a good job we don’t have the DEATH penalty then !
        The law is an ASS & is causing more harm than it resolves. WELL passed its useby date.

        The other thing that was pointed out; the total inconsistency in sentencing:
        * a foreign couple were discharged without conviction for growing 6KGs (10 times the amount Kelly had) !?
        ** another woman got 12 months Home detention for 150 plants.. Kelly apparently had only TWO. (but very bushy ones)

        The biggest problem in NZ is ‘the ostriches’ & people on their ‘blinkered high horses’ who refuse to look beyond ‘GUILTY unless proven innocent’.. taking a ‘zero-tolerance’ & very narrow view on this issue. Its 2016 not 1961 😦

        • Gezza

           /  16th April 2016

          What bothers me is that the law simply defines a given amount as possession for supply when it in many cases in reality is not. It’s like the law saying having money in a foreign trust that has clients who are criminals means anyone signed up with a foreign trust is a criminal.

          • Kevin

             /  16th April 2016

            It’s a presumption. If the defendant is able to show that he wasn’t dealing then he can’t be done for dealing.

            • Gezza

               /  16th April 2016

              How can she show she wasn’t dealing? According to Zedd the cops said there was no evidence she was.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  16th April 2016

              No, but it’s an amount that would lead to that conclusion.

              I wonder if people would be so angry if it was a gang house occupant ? Or a house opposite where people would drive up, one person in the car go in for a few minutes and then come out and drive off, with this happening frequently. This happened in our former street, which was otherwise middle-class and respectable (a good place for it, I suppose, not the sort of place to expect it) and it was obvious what was going on. The parents were sprung when the children were seen carrying marijuana plants through the front garden. It doesn’t always pay to advertise, especially when the boys in blue are driving past on their way back to the police station. Oh dear.

        • Kevin

           /  16th April 2016

          Fact is she had more 28g of cannabis. If it was just personal use she should have known the law and made sure she had less than 28g.

          Also, cannabis should be legalised but until it is if you do the crime you do the time and those that deal in an unregulated market cause harm.

        • Gezza

           /  16th April 2016

          If you grow your own plants outside you can’t grow about 27g worth at a time.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  16th April 2016

            There must be a cut-off point, as there is with drink-driving. No matter whether one thinks that cannabis should be legal, the fact is that it isn’t and everyone knows it.

          • Gezza

             /  16th April 2016

            The cut-off point with alcohol is how much is in your bloodstream Kitty, not whether you’re manufacturing it illegally.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  16th April 2016

              My point was that there has to be a cut-off point for anything like that, and 28g of dope seems an awful lot for one person when one sees how many joints that makes-I was astonished. Whether or not the law should be changed isn’t the issue here-the law is as it is, and the cut-off point for what can reasonably be believed to be personal use seems to be a lot less than 28g. Dope must be really light ! If people break laws, they obviously don’t think that they’ll be caught, but the fact is that some are.

              I only used the blood alcohol thing because I couldn’t think of anything else off-hand where it was an arbitrary cut-off point beyond which it’s a crime.

  3. Gezza

     /  16th April 2016

    “As an insignificant aside, I think I saw Your NZ quoted in The Nation’s coverage.”

    I couldn’t see it. If anyone does can they post a link?

    • @Gezza

      I saw a few media comments, in the story.. one was labeled; from this blog 🙂

      • Gezza

         /  16th April 2016

        Grrr … not sure where I should be looking. I can’t find the story, only endless bloody tweets.

        • @gezza

          I only noticed it, during the program (second view through on TV3+1).. :/

          • Gezza

             /  16th April 2016

            Sorry. I thought they’d done a write-up. Will go have a look. Thanks Zedd.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th April 2016

    As I’ve just said on another thread, there is no problem bureaucracy cannot make worse. In this case, far, far worse.

    A shameful and disgraceful outcome for all involved in that prosecution.

    • Brown

       /  16th April 2016

      I suspect you are correct but we don’t know much about her really. People with an agenda will always say how good she was to everyone etc… when the truth may not be as nice as that. For that reason I’m reserving opinion.

    • Words cannot express what an abomination I think this case and the treatment of Kelly van Gaalen is. To paraphrase Alan, there is no problem the wilful misuse of bureaucracy cannot make worse, far worse.

      IMHO, natural justice dictates people may (and perhaps should) disregard draconian, sectarian, unjust laws. Therefore the many thousands of people convicted of possession and cultivation for their own use over decades in NZ are popular heroes in my eyes, because they represent the basic human rights some laws disregard and impinge upon.

      If ever there was a case for legalisation, regulation and control of marijuana it is exemplified and personified in Kelly’s experience.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  16th April 2016

        Supposing she’d been a foul-mouthed tattooed gang member with five children by different fathers, living in a state house on the DPB ? Would people say it was an injustice then ?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  16th April 2016

          Yes, I believe growing two marijuana plants for your own use should not be an imprisonable crime. I think the people who created this law are evil and those who implement it have no conscience.

  5. John Schmidt

     /  16th April 2016

    Here is a novel idea if you don’t want the Police in your life then don’t break the law.

    • Here’s an even more novel idea, grow an intelligent, discerning conscience and live by it even if it means breaking the law in some instances?

      This, for example, mean’s you won’t decide not to pay any tax, because you want the thin blue line maintained; and the police to focus on serious offences against person and property, really dangerous drugs, particularly the most dangerous one, alcohol, keeping the streets safe and monitoring the highways etc …

    • @JS
      ‘… if you don’t want the police in your life…’

      Its not so-much that, as I want the Police to focus their time & resources on real crime.. eg break & enter robberies (over 80% go unsolved) that have a victim.. rather than on busting pot-smokers or those growing a few plants for their personal use (essentially victimless).. BUT, listening to the media seems to be their #1 priority !? 😦