Convicted UK pot dealer Terry Bennett, 32, was just sentenced to the grown-up version of writing “I will not chew gum in class” on the chalkboard 100 times. He must pen a 5,000-word essay about the dangers of cannabis by April 4—or spend a year in jail.
“It was a shock to be given such an unusual punishment. It’s been ages since I last wrote an essay,” Bennett, who was caught with just over two pounds of marijuana and admitted his intent to sell it, told the UK newspaper the Mirror.
“I think it’s good in a way because it gives me a chance to express my opinion about the crime that I’ve committed,” he added in a video interview with SWNS. “And it also gives me more of an understanding of why the crime’s illegal, because I’m having to actually do the research.”
Bennett’s original sentence from Bristol Judge Julian Lambert, given in January 2012, was for a one-year suspended prison sentence with 240 hours of community service. But a shoulder injury Bennett got while snowboarding, he eventually explained to the judge, made that impossible. Last week Lambert came back with the alternative essay-writing sentence, which also comes with a four-month daily curfew of 8pm to 8am.
“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,” said Bennett. “I’m just going to write about certain dangers caused by cannabis that people might not necessarily know.”
The former plumber and father of two kids left high school at 16 and lives in Gloucestershire with his mother. Speaking with various UK news outlets, he seemed rather excited about the assignment, saying he’d gotten right to work with online research.
“I’ve always loved writing, and used to write stories from when I was 11, but this is the first time I’ve ever had to write a proper essay,” Bennett told the SWNS. “I didn’t realize just how much work it would be to get my point across properly.”
He said he plans to take a slightly different tack than the judge may be expecting.
“I'm going to approach it from a different angle, writing about the dangers that come about because it is illegal, rather than the nature of weed itself,” he explained to the Telegraph. He shared points he planned to cover in his 10-page thesis, including the concepts that pot can cause psychotic episodes, that money generated around the selling of the drug is not taxable, and that smoking the stuff can cause cancers. Then, he stressed, there are the social dangers.
“Weed often causes more problems because of the social inertia and stigma that surrounds it,” the blooming writer noted. “It would be good if there was no stigma attached to people who want help with weed.”
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