US man’s suicide in Taiwan court should prompt re-think of drug sentencing

Photo: Sky TV
Photo: Sky TV

The Wild East / Editorial

“I don’t want to live anymore,” Tyrel shouted, moments before he grabbed scissorblades from the magazine he’d smuggled into the courtroom and killed himself, jamming the blades into his neck. He didn’t make it to the hospital.
Tyrel Martin Marhanka had just received a four-year prison sentence for growing marijuana plants ‘as a hobby’, ‘for his own personal use,” and also for possessing poppy seeds as well — the latter a particularly ridiculous ‘offense’ in our view.
The court issued a statement saying it ‘deeply regretted that he killed himself during sentencing.”  However, this is a bit unclear. Do they regret that he committed suicide as an act of ultimate desperation and personal humiliation? Or did they just regret that he’d done it in their courtroom?
According to initial reports, the courts are now rushing to improve security measures, rather than considering the real problem: the current state of drug sentencing in Taiwan. Taiwan is supposedly a free, democratic society, the first Asian republic, also by the way heavily dependent on the quality of its alliances with other countries. Yet it recently handed down a death sentence for one of their own, a Taiwanese growing cannabis hydroponically in a Taipei luxury apartment. Surely execution is not commensurate with the ‘crime’ in such cases, a victimless crime.
What’s crystal clear is that such heavy-handed treatment destroyed this man’s life. A fifteen-year resident, Tyrel was fired from his teaching job in Changhua, where he supported his family, a Taiwanese wife and two kids, now left without a parent.
W.E. feels this horrific incident should force the Taiwan legal system to revise its draconian drug sentencing, for what amounts to growing a plant.  Growing plants should not be a crime, especially for one’s own personal use;  and Tyrel didn’t sell it, either.  Any avid gardener, botanist or nature lover would agree with this position. Besides, little over a decade ago, cannabis was growing ‘wild’ in the divider of Chongxiao E. Road in the capital, a local police officer said, and that it was ‘chest-high.” Nobody made a big deal about it because nobody cared.
And few people know this, and it’s s little-known historical fact but the first known reference to the existence of cannabis was in Formosa (Taiwan), some 10,000 years ago, according to an encyclopedia of drugs (UC Berkeley).
Those who grow plants for their own personal use are backed up by science. Cannabis, whether the powers that be want to recognize it or not, is an incredibly useful medicine, textile, and ‘canvas’,  which is named for it (e.g. U.S. Declaration of Independence).  W.E. see hypocrisy  everywhere on this issue. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was urging farmers fifty years ago to grow cannabis, to support their war efforts. Watch HEMP FOR VICTORY (link below). Furthermore, hemp paper products are superior, and would handily replace our current irresponsible practice of decimating forests.
Look at the health care industry in the U.S., in such total disarray, profit-driven and the primary cause of bankruptcies. The U.S. is currently making even painkillers difficult to obtain. So millions of patients are self-medicating, and turning to this healthful plant, as a last resort.  Let’s not blame the victim and say these people ‘just want to ‘get high’. They just want relief for a host of ailments. And pot provides.
Psychiatrists are finding out that their patients have increasingly turned to cannabis as a painkiller, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s recent CNN report on the subject, WEED. This important documentary demonstrates that this plant’s active ingredient of cannabidiol is sometimes the only thing that will alleviate extreme cases of epilepsy, as in the case of five-year-old ‘Charlotte, whose quest for relief spawned the new eponymous strain.
The U.S. is finally beginning to acknowledge the plant’s medicinal properties, which are by now scientifically well-established. Some states now allow ‘weed doctors’ to prescribe this age-old medicinal ‘folk remedy’ for alleviating or treating acute pain, seizures, glaucoma, nausea and many other conditions. States like Colorado are now running, and even profiting handsomely from medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
For too long, Taiwan has blindly followed the U.S. example, in its inhumane persecution of people for petty drug possession charges, what should be a misdemeanor or fine, at most. Taiwan should show some initiative, or at least follow the US’ recent example of back-tracking on the issue. In the meantime, there’s a huge number of prisoners thrown behind bars for years, decades, for petty drug possession charges. All those people’s lives wasted for such injustice on the part of our justice systems.
Taiwan should stop mirroring America’s disastrous policy of a ‘War on Drugs’, which is tantamount to a war on the citizenry, and a war on consciousness itself, as Graham Hancock so rightly pointed out in his banned TedTalk.
So why doesn’t Taiwan do the right, most compassionate thing and lead the way towards more leniency, mercy?
What do you think about the issue? Leave your comments below.
‘HEMP FOR VICTORY’, By the U.S. Department of Agriculture

4 thoughts on “US man’s suicide in Taiwan court should prompt re-think of drug sentencing

  • June 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

    “Do they regret that he committed suicide as an act of ultimate desperation and personal humiliation? Or did they just regret that he’d done it in their courtroom?” Of course they regret that he made a mess of their court and put them, and the rest of Taiwan, in the news all over the world in at least five languages. I agree with your position on the issue. But you’ve got Ty all wrong. He didn’t slit his own throat in the courtroom because he was desperate and humiliated, and he wasn’t growing hundreds of plants for himself. You take these two things and run with them, and I can understand deadlines, but if you had any integrity as a writer you’d clean this up and make a it a little more factual.

  • June 20, 2016 at 8:20 am

    I have no sympathy for him whatsoever but my heart goes out to his wife and 2 children he leaves behind.Offing himself was a selfish and cowardly act.216 plants is not a hobby it is a business and he well knew what the law is in Taiwan.Does the sentence fit the crime yes and should Taiwan ease up the laws on drugs absolutely not. There is such a rampant use of drugs with the XYZ generation in most of the clubs and bars that rarely gets reported or is allowed with hush money.

  • June 19, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Hi, really curious about the recent death sentence handed down in Taipei for growing. I did a search and couldn’t find anything. Can you post your source please? Thanks, John


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