A dad-of-two, serving five years for supplying cannabis to help severely ill patients, has been moved to an open prison as his family prepare to launch an appeal against his sentence.
The family of Patrick Moore, who was sentenced to five years for the cultivation and supply of cannabis, have welcomed his move to an open prison just eight months into his sentence.
In December 2022, Moore, from County Limerick in Ireland, pleaded guilty to the charges and is expected to serve three years behind bars, the final two suspended.
Moore, who has been described as a cannabis ‘caregiver’, admitted to selling cannabis flower to friends and acquaintances, the funds of which were being used to produce oil which he provided to sick patients free of charge.
In certain jurisdictions, a designated caregiver is someone who is permitted by local authorities to supply cannabis for a registered medical patient.
The court heard testimonies from a number of families whose loved ones had been helped by Moore, including the parents of a boy diagnosed with leukaemia who had survived more than four years beyond his life expectancy.
A ‘disproportionate’ sentence
Following his sentencing, Irish politicians, TD Gino Kenny of the People Before Profit party and independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne, appealed to the authorities for Moore’s release, describing the sentencing as ‘disproportionate’.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Ireland for use in certain conditions since 2019, but less than 100 patients are thought to have been able to obtain a prescription through the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), which has received criticism for being too ‘restrictive’.
Meanwhile, an ongoing Citizens Assembly on drug use is expected to recommend the decriminalisation of cannabis and all drugs for personal use in Ireland.
Cannabis Health understands that Wynne wrote to Justice Minister, Simon Harris, who said he was referring the case to the Inspector of Prisons; and Irish President, Michael D Higgins, who responded with a holding reply saying he was ‘looking into it’.
Speaking exclusively to Cannabis Health, the family revealed that on Sunday 13 August, Moore was moved from Limerick Prison to the open prison, Shelton Abbey in Wicklow – although the grounds for this decision have not been communicated.
Open prisons are those in which the minimum restrictions are placed on prisoners and they are generally trusted to complete their sentences with minimal supervision.
Moore will now have access to a mobile phone on which he can contact his partner and two teenage children, and the freedom to move around the grounds as he wishes, providing he attends registration three times a day. He has a job working in the prison’s greenhouse and it is hoped he may be able to visit them at home for a weekend later this year.
Keeping his spirits up
His family say his move was a ‘great comfort’ to them and had made a ‘huge difference’ to Moore’s spirits, as he potentially faces up to another two years away from them.
In a statement to Cannabis Health, the family said: “We are pleased to announce that Pat has been moved from Limerick Prison to Shelton Abbey in Wicklow which is an open prison. This is a much better environment in the grounds of an 18th century country house. He has his own mobile phone from which he can make and receive calls as he wishes. He is free to move around the grounds during the day, as long as he attends registration when required. He has a job working in the greenhouse. It looks like in November he may be allowed to come home for a weekend.”
They continued: “This has made a huge difference to Pat and to those of us at home but we long for his release which could still be as long as two years away. Thank you for all the support and good wishes we have received and to those people who have written to Pat. This encouragement keeps his spirits up and is a great comfort to us at home.”
The move comes as Moore’s family are preparing to launch a campaign to appeal his sentence in the coming weeks, with a plea to President Higgins who under Irish law has the power to pardon or commute sentences.
Peter Reynolds, chair of the Cannabis Industry Council’s Ireland Working Group and president of drug reform advocacy group CLEAR, as well as a close friend of Moore’s, supported the family throughout the court case and in the months since, describing the sentence as ‘brutal’ in an article for Cannabis Health.
He met with Moore’s partner, Ali, following the news and about his move and described what it meant to the family.
“For the first time last week, Pat and Ali were able to speak until they didn’t have anything else to say. In Limerick Prison the calls were limited and after five minutes, there was regular beeping to indicate two minutes left,” he said.
“Michael [Moore’s son] came rushing into the café while I was talking with Ali, thrilled and excited that his dad had called him while he was in Tesco.”
Reynolds added: “We don’t know why Pat was moved just eight months into his sentence, but clearly someone had words in the right ear, for which we are grateful.”
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