Forty-nine year old John Downard, the director of Vortech, a company investigating the potential of pulverizing hemp seeds, was freed of charges of drug trafficking and importation of cannabis seeds today by Magistrate Leslie Hamilton. Downard, who is a naturalized Belizean originally from the United States, was charged with the offences on December 4, 2013, when he arrived in Belize via Phillip Goldson International Airport and 460 grams of what was perceived as hemp seed with cannabis resin. Downard was charged despite the fact that he declared that they were hemp seeds and they were tested twice and the presence of cannabis resin was negative. Today at the close of the case for the prosecution, Downard’s attorney, Rachel Montejo Juan, submitted that Downard did not have a case to answer to because the prosecution had not proved its case. Magistrate Hamilton upheld the submission and dismissed the charges. The prosecution has given notice that it intends to appeal Magistrate Hamilton’s decision.

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