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Drug Dealer Ordered to Write 5,000-Word Essay

A UK judge sentences a man to write about the "dangers of marijuana," or go to jail.

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Terry Bennett at work on his "assignment."
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By Chrisanne Grise

03/29/13

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Convicted drug dealer Terry Bennett has a choice: write a 5,000-word essay on the "dangers" of marijuana, or go to jail for a year. The 32-year-old from Gloucestershire, England, was caught with over two pounds of marijuana and admitted possession with intent to supply. He was originally sentenced to 240 hours of community service, but was unable to complete the work because of a snowboarding injury. The judge offered him the essay as an alternative. “I asked the judge if I could write a balanced argument for and against cannabis, but he said that since it’s illegal, I should only write about the bad things," says Bennett. “I’m just going to write about certain dangers caused by cannabis that people might not necessarily know.” To avoid jail time, he hopes to finish the essay by his April 4th deadline. Bennett, who says he has not written an essay in "ages," has chosen to interpret "dangers of marijuana" in his own way. "I'm going to approach it from a different angle, writing about the dangers that come about because it is illegal, rather than the nature of weed itself," he says. "Weed often causes more problems because of the social inertia and stigma that surrounds it." In addition to the essay, Bennett was also ordered to obey a four-month 8 pm curfew, along with drug testing, which he says could prove useful for him. "I've got a drugs conviction so for me to take on a more serious role in society it is imperative that I prove I am clean and steering clear of cannabis," he says, adding: "purely because it is illegal.”

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