Cannabis seed dealer discharged on all Counts in federal US extradition case

10.10.17 | |

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 30 August 2017 District Judge John Zani discharged UK-based international seed dealer, Gypsy Nirvana, following a federal extradition request brought by the US on 4 counts of conspiracy to produce, supply, and import cannabis into the US State of Maine, and money laundering the proceeds of sales. The US relied on a number of confidential witnesses and a YouTube video of Mr. Nirvana making an ‘activist’ speech at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam promising to sell seeds to US customers.

Mr. Nirvana had been arrested in July 2013 by Filipino immigration authorities at the behest of the US DEA and was held in a Philippine detention centre for more than 2 years while he appealed his detention to the Supreme Court.  He then contacted Richard Parry, a specialist in the law on drugs at Saunders Solicitors Ltd based in the City of London, who advised him to come back to the UK to fight extradition from here. He had already fought off an attempt to get him on a flight to the UK because it was scheduled to stop in Los Angeles, where he would have been arrested and incarcerated pursuant to the extant US warrant. He was facing a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years under US law.

Back in the UK, Mr. Parry instructed Ben Cooper to defend his extradition. Ben argued that no equivalent offence would have been committed in England had the conduct alleged been transposed to the jurisdiction of an English criminal court. The court accepted selling cannabis seeds is legal in the UK and accordingly ruled the conduct underlying all four counts failed to satisfy the dual criminality test. The court held the sale and supply of cannabis seeds did not of itself establish incitement or a conspiracy to be concerned in the production of cannabis. As the money laundering offences indicted were predicated on the alleged illegality of the seed sales Mr. Nirvana was discharged on all Counts.

The US now seeks to challenge this decision in the High Court and is seeking permission to appeal to the Administrative Court (Queen’s Bench Division).

Domestic media coverage of the case can be read here

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