Convicted cannabis dealer told to write 5,000-word ESSAY on dangers of drugs because he couldn't do community service due to injury
Terry Bennett, 32, of Cold Ashton, Glos, admitted intent to supply cannabis
Probation said his dislocated shoulder was health and safety issueJudge Julian Lambert wants his essay on dangers of drugs in by April 4

Luke Salkeld


12:00 GMT, 26 March 2013



00:02 GMT, 27 March 2013

It is a penalty more commonly associated with classroom than court room. But convicted drug dealer Terry Bennett has been told to pay for his crime by writing a 5,000-word essay.

The 32-year-old had been given a suspended prison sentence as well as 240 hours of community service for possessing a kilogram of cannabis with intent to supply.

However, after Judge Julian Lambert heard that a recurring shoulder injury put paid to any physical work, he took the unusual step of ordering Bennett to write a 5,000-word essay on the negative effects of cannabis.

terry bennett

Judge Julian Lambert

Convicted drug dealer Terry Bennett, left, was told to write an essay on drugs by Judge Julian Lambert, right

If he fails to submit it by his
deadline at the beginning of next month, the suspended sentence could be
activated and he would be sent to jail. Bennett, a father of two who
has no previous convictions, was told to write the essay on the ‘dangers
of drugs’ at Bristol Crown Court.

The former plumber said yesterday: ‘I
asked the judge if I could write a balanced argument for and against
cannabis, but he said that since it’s illegal I should only write about
the bad things.

'I’m just going to do my best to write about certain
dangers caused by cannabis that people might not know.’

Bennett, who claims jobseeker’s
allowance, was originally sentenced in October last year after a police
raid on his home in December 2011 uncovered 996g of cannabis and 2,685
in cash.

He then missed two court-ordered work
placements at the British Heart Foundation in Kingswood, Bristol. He had
been given the job of moving heavy furniture, but could not carry out
the work because of the injury.

Bennett claims the illegality of cannabis is more detrimental to users than the harmful effects of the drug

Bennett claims the illegality of cannabis is more detrimental to users than the harmful effects of the drug

Bennett has been
carrying out research and plans to structure his thesis around the
mental health consequences of smoking cannabis.

He added: ‘I’ve got a
drugs conviction, so for me to subsequently take on a more serious role
in society it is imperative that I prove to everyone that I’m clean and
steering clear of cannabis, purely because it is illegal.’

Bennett, who lives with his mother in
the village of Cold Ashton, near Bristol, admitted the charges but was
unable to do the unpaid work because of a shoulder injury he suffered
during a snowboarding holiday six years ago.

As well as the essay, which has to be
handed in to his probation office, Judge Lambert gave Bennett a
four-month curfew order between 8pm until 6am and is currently wearing
an electronic tag.

He also voluntarily provides samples
to be tested for drugs, so social services will allow him access to his
sons, who live with their mothers.

Bennett said: ‘Hopefully the essay
should be quite good, but it’s been ages since I last wrote an essay. I
have already done a bit of research. I’ve always loved writing.’


Bennett has drawn up five bullet points outlining his theory upon which he will base his dissertation:

1 – Cannabis changes your mentality, and cause psychotic episodes.
2 – The stigma of being associated with cannabis can damage your social standing.
– It's illegal and the money generated is not taxable, meaning it costs
the Government rather than being a potential source of revenue.
4 – People are 'ripped off' as unscrupulous dealers up their profit by mixing the drugs with sand and glass.
5 – When consumed in certain ways, most notably being smoked with tobacco, cannabis can cause cancer, especially mouth cancers.