British ‘cannabis activist’ plans return to Philippines after evading US law

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Gypsy Nirvana with his children in Subic. Picture from a Go Fund Me page he set up while imprisoned in Manila

A British man is hoping to return to his family in the Philippines after fighting off a bid by the USA to extradite him on cannabis charges.

Gypsy Nirvana, whose trade in the seeds is legal in the UK, has been fighting the extradition bid since 2013.

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US authorities describes him as a “marijuana activist and advocate” and wanted him to face charges in the state of Maine for “conspiring to manufacture, distribute, import and export marijuana seeds”.

But the 57-year-old declared himself a “free man” on Thursday (March 15) after two leading judges ruled against the US in the UK’s High Court.

Mr Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Holgate upheld an earlier ruling that Mr Nirvana should not be extradited because his seed-dealing operation was not illegal under UK law.

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Speaking outside court after the hearing, Mr Nirvana said: “A great weight has been taken off my head. So far as I’m concerned I’m just a cannabis seed dealer.

“I’m not involved in producing those seeds, I just buy them and then I sell them. I am a peaceful, loving man and I’m not interested in all this police activity.”

He added that he will now concentrate his efforts on returning to his wife Leah and their two children in Subic.

“Now I’m a free man, I’m going to work on getting to see my family again,” he said.

Mr Nirvana, who was once a roadie for the rock band The Clash, was arrested at his home in the Philippines in August 2013 after US authorities issued an international arrest warrant.

He spent 30 months in Camp Bagong Diwa, Manila, where he said he was kept in poor conditions alongside “real criminals”, before being deported to the UK in March 2016.

An earlier attempt to deport him was made in September 2013, but he “successfully resisted his removal” after he discovered the plane he had boarded was due to stop in the US before continuing to the UK – presumably without him.

According to The Herb magazine, although cannabis use remains illegal in the UK, the country was recently found to be the world’s largest producer and exporter of the plant. According to a report released by the United Nations, the UK exported a total of 2.1 tons of cannabis in 2016, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the global supply.

It seems unlikely Mr Nirvana will continue his trade should he successfully return to the Philippines, at least while President Duterte remains in charge.

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