American English teacher, MMA fighter arrested for growing marijuana in Taipei

American cram school teacher and MMA fighter was arrested for growing marijuana in his apartment in Taipei

Suspect (right). (From from Taipei police)

Suspect (right). (From from Taipei police)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- An American cram school English teacher and amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was arrested in Taipei on Thursday (May 30) for growing marijuana in his apartment, reported China Times.

Police received a report that a 33-year-old American, who has been living in Taiwan for six years teaching English at a cram school for middle school and high school students, was growing marijuana in his apartment and selling it to others for consumption. However because the tall, muscular man is skilled in Brazilian Jujitsu and an amateur MMA fighter and due to the presence of two possible escape routes, the Criminal Investigation Bureau and Taipei Criminal Investigation Corps put together a team of 13 men skilled in various martial arts, including a Judo coach, to ensure the safety of the police on duty.

When police raided his apartment on Fude Road in Taipei's Nangang District, the suspect did not attempt to resist arrest, but the strong smell of marijuana was indeed evident. Though he seemed to have already harvested his latest crop, much equipment for growing the illegal drug was found, including fans, lamps, thermometers, sprinklers, and plant growing tents.

Police also found 95 grams of dried cannabis buds, 305 grams of un-dried cannabis leaves, 16 grams of dried leaves, 1,152 cannabis butter, and 411 grams of cannabis tincture. The suspect confessed to police that while hanging out in a nightclub, some friends gave him some cannabis seeds and he then researched on the internet how to grow the plants.

The suspect said that he trained in MMA during the week and competes in amateur MMA fights, but he had the habit of consuming marijuana. He said that he uses the cannabis butter and tincture in order to avoid damaging his lungs, but he denied selling it to others.

Marijuana is banned in professional MMA competitions because it is considered a performance-enhancing substance with effects such as reducing pain and increasing the heart rate.

The suspect was subsequently cleared on the charge of selling marijuana. However, police transferred him to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutor's Office on suspicion of violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例) for possessing a category 2 narcotic. The suspect was later released on NT$150,000 bail.

Unlike certain U.S. states and some Western countries where it is allowed for medical or recreational purposes, marijuana is still an illegal drug in Taiwan. Due to a spate of arrests of Americans for possession of marijuana in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (U.S. de facto embassy in the country) in March of last year posted a reminder to American citizens "that penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana) in Taiwan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines."