Forensic analyst says THC is not quantified in Namibia

THC an illegal substance
Otis Daniels_Finck
Swakopmund • [email protected]

The state’s last witness in the ongoing trial of Swakopmund resident Cheryl Green (59), in which she is facing charges of drug cultivation and possession, said that any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis was considered as an illegal dependence-producing substance.

“Cannabis in itself is not illegal, but all cannabis contains some THC; and it is this substance that makes cannabis illegal,” he told Swakopmund magistrate Conchita Olivier today (Thursday).

Green was arrested in July 2019 at her house for allegedly growing cannabis and being in possession of cannabis seeds and oil. She maintains that she grew cannabis (the hemp variety) to medicate her partner, Rainer Kring, who suffers from a motor neuron disease (MND). According to her, Kring's prescription medicine made him sicker, but research led her to believe that hemp (which contains mainly cannabidiol, or CBD) helps with neural regeneration.

Hemp, according to her contains less than 0,3% THC, and therefore is not addictive. In fact, hemp seed and oil are for sale as a health products from the shelves of several pharmacies and retails stores in Namibia. She bought hemp seed at a retail pharmacy at Swakopmund, and planted them at home, and eventually concocted a superior quality cannabis oil by combining virgin coconut oil and organic cannabis from her garden that resulted in noticeable improvements in her partner’s condition.

After her arrest though, Kring's condition worsened, Green claimed. “The forced removal of my hemp plants by the police has removed my ability to produce oil for my life partner, and has effectively removed his constitutional rights to life and health,” she argued in a previous court appearance.

Green’s defence council, Richard Metcalfe, has repeatedly challenged state witnesses since the start of her trial about why Green is being arrested for the same product which can be legally bought at shops, and none could give an answer.

He also challenged witnesses about the wording used in the Abuse of Dependence-Producing Substances and Rehabilitation Centres Act, claiming that “cannabis” was not mentioned - only dependence-producing substance was used.

The samples sent for forensic analyses did however contain THC – but the quantity was not noted, which, according to Green and her council, made a big difference to the legality of the cannabis (hemp) she had, than that which is generally found on users and dealer, commonly known as dagga or marijuana, which contains mainly THC.

Metcalfe said that hemp only contains 0,3% THC, but Shomeya argued that quantifying THC was not applicable in Namibia, and was only used to differentiate between hemp and marijuana in some countries, such as Canada. “When we test, we only test for the presence of THC, but some varieties have more than others,” he told the court.

When showed photos of seed and seedlings from products purchased at a retail store in Swakopmund and asked if that looked like the samples he got for forensic analyses, Shomeya said they were similar. He was also shown a bottle of locally purchased cannabis oil.

He told the court that he was aware that cannabis’ CBD compound had medicinal value, but he otherwise could not comment as to why cannabis products, which could contain even very small amounts of THC (which is illegal), was being sold from shop shelves to anyone who is able to afford it.

The matter was postponed to 24 February.