TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Canadian cram school teacher who teaches English and was arrested for growing marijuana at his home in northern Taiwan has been given a reduced sentence for being a "conscientious" teacher.
On Jan. 30, the teacher, surnamed Lee (李), 52, was arrested at his home in Taoyuan City's Longtan District, where police found 163 marijuana plants, 893 grams of dry cannabis, and related drug growing paraphernalia. Although the court considered Lee's drug-growing operation illegal, he was handed a commuted sentence of two years because his students, parents, and colleagues said he had a conscientious attitude and "valued teaching over making money."
According to the police investigation, Lee has lived in Taiwan for 10 years and spent many of those years living and teaching in Taoyuan. Lee claimed that because cannabis was legal in Canada, where it was formally legalized in 2018, he thought the same was true in Taiwan.
He claimed that in 2018, he ordered seeds, insecticides, and gardening tools on overseas websites. He said he then installed water pipes, electricity, plant growing racks, lights, and sprinklers, with his first harvest coming within four months.
When police raided his home in January of this year, he confessed he had set up the growing operation in his home. The court took his confession and claims the plants were for his own use into consideration when commuting his sentence.
The court also took into consideration his many years of teaching English at cram schools, where he was praised by students and colleagues for his hard work and "good personal character." His sentence was reduced to two years for manufacturing Category Two narcotics, in accordance with Article 59 of the Criminal Law, reported UDN.
The court added that because Lee had no previous convictions prior to this case and many students were able to attest to his moral character, he will not face deportation once he serves his sentence in prison and will be allowed to stay in Taiwan.