‘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.”