One minute you’re just trying to collect some cannabis oil to relieve your arthritis pain, and the next you’re being arrested for drug smuggling. That’s what happened to Pip Holmes, a 45-year-old artist from Cornwall who was arrested in Bali when he tried picking up a package containing cannabis oil. Holmes claims he was aware of Indonesia’s extremely strict anti-drug laws but decided to try his luck nonetheless. Clearly, it didn’t pay off. He was detained on December 3rd after trying to pick up the package and then spent six days in a cell. Since lawyers argued he was a drug user, rather than a trafficker, he was transferred to a police hospital rehab facility.

 

Although drug smuggling can carry a death penalty in Indonesia, given the small quantity of drugs Holmes was carrying, that probably won’t be his fate. The authorities forced him to face the media alongside other drug smugglers in what he described to the BBC as a “very surreal and bizarre” news conference. “I just wanted to stand up and say I’m not in this category,” he said, “but the law is very different here and it’s very harsh.” Medical cannabis products are legal in the UK though Holmes does acknowledge his mistake in not abiding by Indonesia’s cannabis rules. “It feels like a great injustice, but I’m not in the UK, I’m in Bali, so it’s my own fault.”

Holmes arrived in Bali in October to spend some time painting and surfing, but now he faces a prison sentence of between five and 15 years. His next court date is scheduled for January, and Holmes’s best case scenario is being classified as a “marijuana addict,” which would make him eligible for a more lenient rehabilitation sentence.

The British Foreign Office is assisting Holmes during the ordeal though he remains frightened about his future. “I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I can hug my children again,” he said. “They are the only thing keeping me going right now.”

H/T: BBC News

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