A man who risked up to 10 years in prison after more than 100g of cannabis was found in his car has been conditionally discharged on the basis of evidence that the drug was for his personal use.

Fabio Ignazzitto, 32, was flagged down by local wardens in March of 2019, while driving through Halel Street, St Paul’s Bay.

The wardens had noticed a broken headlamp on the driver’s vehicle.

As they approached the man’s car, the distinct smell of cannabis roused the officers' suspicion and prompted them to alert the Qawra police station. 

A police officer arrived on-site and searched the driver’s car, finding several partially smoked cigarettes inside a metal container and a plastic bag containing a green substance. 

The driver was escorted to the police station for questioning.

In his statement, the man admitted that the day before he had bought 130 grams of marijuana for €430, out of which he had taken “two or three grams” to make a joint.

Criminal action was instituted against him for aggravated possession of cannabis since the circumstances appeared to indicate that the drug was not for his personal use. 

A scientific analyst confirmed that there were eight partially-smoked joints besides 118.64 grams of cannabis grass inside the bag, at an estimated value of €2,254. 

The accused’s partner also testified, explaining that the man used to smoke some four or five joints daily, but had since quit drugs. 

He used to buy larger quantities of the drug since it was cheaper that way, the woman said. 

The court, presided over by magistrate Doreen Clarke, stated that there was no doubt that the accused had possessed the drug. 

The difficulty arose in determining whether that drug had indeed been for his own use since there was no “hard and fast rule” in terms of law to assess when the drug “was not for personal use,” observed the court. 

In this case, 118 grams was “not an insignificant amount.” 

However, the accused was a regular cannabis user and there was no forensic evidence showing that the joints had been smoked by third parties. 

Moreover, when searching the man’s car and home, the police had found no other objects linked to drug trafficking or sharing, noted the court. 

On the basis of such evidence and after considering the man’s clean conviction sheet, the court acquitted him of aggravated possession, declaring him guilty of simple possession for which he was conditionally discharged for two years. 

The accused was ordered to pay €324.50 in court expert expenses. 

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.

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