‘Cannabis for Shiva:’ UK couple cleared of $450,000 drug dealing

‘Cannabis for Shiva:’ UK couple cleared of $450,000 drug dealing
A British couple have been cleared of dealing cannabis after claiming that they planned to burn their crop in sacrifice to the Hindu god Shiva. Prosecutors alleged that they made some $450,000 over six years by dealing drugs.

The woman, Katarzyna Dryden-Chouen, 46, said that she intended to make the sacrifice because the world was about to end. She admitted to growing the cannabis, and told Gloucester Crown Court that the “religious sacrifice” was to be offered to Shiva before December 21, 2012 – when she believed the world would end.

The Mayan calendar reached the end of its 5,126-year-long cycle on December 21, and Dryden-Chouen  said that she intended to create a Homa (burning pit) for a ceremony.

The plants found in her and her husband Clive’s home – 15 established plants and 41 juvenile ones – had the potential to yield around 2.9 pounds of the drug – an amount that would fetch about $9,600, according to the prosecution. Police also alleged that nearly £13,000 ($21,000) in cash was found in their home in Littledean, near the Welsh border.

“Just about every room in the house had cannabis in it,” when police ransacked the premises, according to prosecutor Paul Grumbar.  The money was found near a “shrine.”

Clive Dryden-Chouen, 60, claimed that the £277,000 ($443,000) which passed through their hands over the last six years came from his business based on converting cars to run on liquid petroleum gas.  He said that he did not have a bank account and was paid in cash.

Evidence given in the trial was built on diary extracts from the wife, which documented details of her cannabis growing and selling. However, she declared in front of a jury that the passages were a “fiction” as she spent extended periods of time medicating without eating.

Katarzyna Dryden-Chouen also claimed to be in possession of a pet mouse who could talk, and the couple denied knowing that cannabis possession was illegal. While she and her husband admitted to personal use of cannabis, both were cleared of intending to supply the drug after a three-week trial.

At the beginning of the case, the Dryden-Chouens pleaded guilty to cultivating the cannabis crop, but denied charges of intent to supply and of money laundering. Police conducted the raid on their home in August 2012.

Judge Alastair McGrigor warned the couple that they may still face jail on the charge of cultivating the plants. “This matter is not entirely over,” he said in court, according to the Daily Mail. “You are going to be sentenced in relation to the material that was found in the house. All options are still open to the court.