Pre-Sentence Report on: DANUIEL TREVOR CLARK
For Sentence: 10 May, 2001
Offences: Cultivate Cannabis (X1); Possess For Supply Cannabis Plant (X1)

Sources of Information

Mr Clark was interviewed.
Coral Wiltshire, a caregiver for Mr Clark, was interviewed.
Community Probation records were perused.
Mr Chris Fowlie, president of NORML (the National Organisation for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws) was spoken to. Mr Fowlie is also a trustee, along with the Honourable Nandor Tanczos, of the Catalyst Trust, a Trust that undertakes adult drug education as well as collection of appropriate drug research.
A significant amount of documentation was perused, including medical specialists' correspondence and governmental correspondence relating to Mr Clark's term of imprisonment in 1999.
A representative of the Human Resources Division, Public Prisons branch of the Department of Corrections was spoken to.
Jeanette Jackson, head of hospital ward, Mt. Eden Prison, was spoken to.

Social Circumstances

Mr Clark, a C6 tetraplegic, resides in a rental house in New Plymouth. He has 135 hours ACC-granted care per week. This includes sleepovers by the caregivers.

Te benefit that Mr Clark receives is $524 per fortnight. This is supplemented by a payment from ACC that is paid every 13 weeks and equals $62 per week. Of his money he pays rental of $150 and the balance is spent on food, bills, care of 2 dogs and vehicle running expenses.

Mr Clark came to New Plymouth in August/September 2000. Previously he had resided in Auckland and was an active member of an organisation called NORML, with his role predominantly being the medical marijuana aspects of the marijuana legislation. He intended to begin a branch of NORML in Taranaki but this has been put on hold while these matters are being dealt with.

The equipment that Mr Clark needs to live as normal a life as possible includes a special commode and a Lay-Z-Boy chair. He needs on average 3 hours nursing care per day just on bowel and showering requirements. At night he attaches a 2 litre urinary bag and receives regular medical supplies from a medical supplier. He requires turning to avoid pressure sores and preferably a hi/lo bed with proper pressure mattress. He finds cold environments detrimental to his condition.

Personal History Relevant To Offending

Mr Clark became a tetraplegic following a motor vehicle accident in Corfu in 1991. One of the resulting complications is ongoing pain following surgery for bone formation in the muscle affecting the left hip, called para-articular ossification. A second complication is a condition called autonomic hyper-reflexia which is, I am informed, violent and non-voluntary spasms of different muscle groups.* Medication for both pain control and spasms has produced what Dr J Lusk describes in his submissions to the Minister of Health (for Mr Clark to have non-medical use of marijuana in 1995) as "totally unacceptable side effects." Marijuana, in Mr Clark's experience and as witnessed by his doctors, friends and caregivers, provides excellent pain and anti-spasm relief with none of the side effects he gets from prescription medicine.

Mr Clark's use of marijuana is regular. He says he prefers it in dried form sprinkled on food or baked in cookies. This, he says, avoids the "rush" of inhaling the smoke and avoids the carcinogenic effects that smoking can have.

In 1995 Mr Clark applied to the associate Minister of health to be granted a dispensation to allow him to take marijuana for its medicinal effects. This application was declined.

Mr Clark was imprisoned in 1999 for use of marijuana. the accompanying documentation gives an indication of the inadequacy at that time of the prison system to deal with persons of Mr clark's medical condition. His allegations of the lack of available resources within the prison system and his negative experiences attracted national media coverage.

Factors Relating To Offending

There is no dispute with the summaries. Mr Clark says all the cannabis was his, for his own use, and was approximately 1 year's supply. It is unlikely that while the prescribed medication has the side effects it does Mr Clark will cease using cannabis. He has no inclination to attend any rehabilitative sentence that would assist him in ceasing its use.

Since 1993 Mr Clark has 14 cannabis-related convictions.

The Department of Corrections representative spoken to stated that when a person with a physical disability such as Mr Clark's was sentenced to a full time custodial sentence it was the responsibility of the Department to provide the necessary facilities and staffing to care for that person. He indicated that this would mean that mr Clark, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, would most likely be immediately transferred to Mt. Eden Prison hospital ward. In reality, however, says the head of that ward. In reality, however, says the head of that ward, there would not be any guarantee at present that Mr Clark would receive the "humane containment" required from the prison system with the current levels of funding and staffing. He would receive nowhere near the hours of one to one care currently funded by ACC and there would be no guarantee the specialist equipment such as the commode chair and hi/lo bed would be provided. If he wanted them, she says, Mr Clark would probably need to provide his own, at least in the short term.

Response To Previous Sentences

No records were available for the reason for, or response to, Supervision in 1993.
Fines imposed have been paid.


Danuiel Clark appears for both possession of 805.25 grams of cannabis and cultivation of 14 cannabis plants. He has a history of cannabis cultivation and use. There is, however, no indication that Mr Clark was cultivating cannabis for supply and it appears that his use of cannabis was for medical reasons. Mr Clark accepts that his use of cannabis is illegal but, due to its pain relief and anti-spasm qualities, he is not going to cease its use.

Supervision is not recommended due to there being no focus for rehabilitation.

Mr Chris Fowlie was spoken to. As a trustee of the Catalyst Trust, he indicated that Mr Clark could perform Community Service for that organisation. He indicated this would be focusing on the research into the medical use of marijuana and generally lobbying for this matter to be examined in some depth by the relevant authorities. I advise that this would be deemed appropriate Community Service by Community Probation.

While Mr Clark could attend Periodic Detention and remain simply in the custody of the Warden, sitting for 8 hours in his wheelchair would create pressure complications. It is not recommended.

If the Court considers a full-time custodial sentence appropriate, Leave to Apply for Home Detention or a suspension of the sentence (if over the 6 months threshold) could be considered. However I advise that the former could take some weeks to reach the District Prisons Board, time when Mr Clark would be in custody. Also there are no identifiable issues that would constitute ay type of Home Detention programme. With the latter, given Mr Clark's continued use of cannabis, it would not be seen as having any deterrent or rehabilitative function.

I advise that Mr Clark is considering reapplying to the Minister of Health for a dispensation to use marijuana for medical use.


I recommend Community Service.

Peter Scott
Probation Officer

* Autonomic Hyper-Reflexia:
Patients, whose lesion is above T5-6 and who are complete, may exhibit in response to a variety of stimuli, such as visceral distension, skin temperature changes, intravesical instrumentation, and even psychic stimuli, the phenomenon of skin vasodilation in the head and neck, bradycardia, hypertension, intense headache, an sudomotor activity with excessive sweating above the lesion - this is autonomic hyper-reflexia.
Most commonly the phenomenon occurs via visceral afferent stimuli from bladder, bowel, gall bladder, uterus and pancreas. Hyper-Reflexia can herald bowel pathology if it occurs late in its management.
As central hyperthermia rises, vasodilation above the lesion is intensified, with flushing, pupillary dilation and sweating. Together with the unrelieved hypertension, these phenomena magnify the pounding headache. All reactions are a vain attempt by the body to lower blood pressure.

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