Boss told workers it was legal to sell cannabis seeds
TWO men who worked for a North Coast business were convinced by their boss it was "completely legal" to sell cannabis seeds, a court has heard.
Guilherme Arantes Branco, 37, and Victor Colares Machado, 35, both originally from Brazil, faced Byron Bay Local Court on Monday charged with supplying a prohibited drug.
Both men pleaded guilty to the charge but at the time of their offending, they believed their actions were lawful, defence solicitor Tom Ivey told the court.
Mr Ivey told the court Suffolk Park man Michael Perchard, their boss, had made many assurances that the business was lawful.
Mr Ivey said the way Colares Machado "overtly" strolled to the Suffolk Park Post Office with packages of cannabis seed was testament to his naivety.
According to court documents, police stopped him outside the post office shortly after 3.30pm on Friday, May 15 this year.
Police later searched a nearby property, where they spoke with Arantes Branco.
The court heard the men were legitimately employed by Perchard, with time sheets supplied and tax paid on their income.
But while he offered other legal products through their website, he was also benefiting from cannabis seed trade.
Mr Ivey argued his clients' ignorance should reduce their moral culpability.
Magistrate Michael Dakin said superior courts had recognised "each (person) has a role to be played and without that role being fulfilled the (financial benefit) … wouldn't be received".
Mr Dakin said actions of "stealth" could be viewed as "seeking to legitimise" cannabis and to bolster "the perception amongst some that cannabis should be distinguished from some other illicit drugs".
But he said this approach would be "contrary to authority".
"I accept it's a different case to most of the drug supply matters that come before the court but equally it just seems these men have entirely placed their trust in someone who sells illicit drugs for financial reward."
He convicted both men and fined them $500 each.
Hemp seeds, which are distinct from cannabis seeds, were legalised as a food product in Australia in 2017.