Rapper Nines from is going to jail for smuggling nearly 62 pounds of cannabis into the U.K. The 31-year-old rapper — whose real name is Courtney Freckleton — was caught bringing the drug into the country with the help of his 35-year-old accomplice Jason Thompson. According to a report by The BBC, Freckleton will serve 28 months in prison for the crime, sparking a huge debate among fans online.
Authorities believe Freckleton and Thompson carried out an elaborate scheme to get cannabis into the U.K. The two used Bitcoin to purchase a huge stash of illicit cannabis overseas, then arranged to have it hidden on boilers coming from Poland. Some aspects of their criminal operation remain mysterious, and since it's international, it may fall out of local police jurisdiction. In the meantime, cannabis remains a class B narcotic in the U.K. in spite of growing acceptance around the world. Some fans think that Freckleton is being punished too harshly.
The other conspirators in the plot said that Freckleton was the "big boss" of the whole scheme. Under the stage name Nines, Freckleton had a chart-topping record last year and won the Mobo Award for best hip hop music act. His album Crabs In A Bucket has had some success in the U.S. as well.
Freckleton also has two children, and a history of drug offenses as well. He previously served 18 months in prison for possession of cannabis with intent to supply. In this case, he was caught in coordination with French authorities via the encrypted messaging app Encrochat, which is reportedly used by thousands of criminals all over the world.
Freckleton and Thompson were first arrested back in June when police raided the homes of many suspected drug dealers based on information gained from the Encrochat infiltration. While sentencing them, Judge Rosa Dean said: "What a waste of all of that talent, to be sat in Wormwood Scrubs."
Of course, possession or sale of cannabis is regarded as a crime in less of the world than ever these days, and the territory where it is illegal is constantly dwindling. In the U.S., cannabis is still considered illegal by the federal government, but is now legal for recreational use in 19 states, and for medical use in another 20 states. It has been decriminalized in Nebraska but not authorized for medical or recreational use, leaving just 10 states where the drug is still fully illegal.
In consideration of that, more and more people are calling for an abolishment of cannabis arrests and prison sentences, especially in the U.S. The ACLU has a landing page for data on these legal quirks, and the Last Prisoner Project advocates for cannabis expungement as well. It is not clear if any such advocacy groups are taking up the call for Freckleton.