A HIGH Court judge caused a furore yesterday when he jailed a cannabis trafficker for 20 years. The sentence, which staggered legal experts, came just months after six judges said they were in favour of decriminalising cannabis. Deputy Judge Pang passed the unprecedented sentence after hearing how seizures of the drug had soared in the past 10 years. To date convictions for cannabis trafficking have attracted sentences of around four years. Legal sources said they were 'flabbergasted' at the steep increase and claimed salesman Chong Chak-on should win on appeal. Guidelines for sentencing are vague, but a tariff set down in 1986 recommends four years and upwards for amounts exceeding nine kilograms. Lawyers believe the judge passed the 20-year term in an effort to force the case to the Court of Appeal so the existing tariffs can be reviewed. The Legal Department is anxious to bump up sentences in the light of the increase in seizures. Yesterday's sentence comes two weeks after Mr Justice Bewley jailed two men for two years each after they admitted trafficking in 51 kg of cannabis resin. The judge refused a request by the prosecution to reconsider the guidelines saying it was a matter for the Court of Appeal. But Deputy Judge Pang said yesterday it was high time jail terms for cannabis trafficking were revised. And in a strongly-worded speech he claimed it was totally unrealistic to advocate the decriminalisation of cannabis. The comments came just four months after Mr Justice Kaplan and Mr Justice Godfrey revealed they supported decriminalisation. Four other judges echoed their views. Both judges refused to comment on the sentence or their colleague's remarks. Deputy Judge Pang jailed Chong after a jury convicted him of trafficking in 388.6 kg of cannabis worth $17.49 million. The massive haul was seized in a raid on Chong's stone hut in Yuen Long, New Territories, on July 7 last year. The judge said penalties for cannabis trafficking needed to be reconsidered. He said: 'Cannabis use among people under 21 has increased 100-fold between 1982 and 1992. 'Any suggestion that cannabis should be decriminalised is unrealistic and probably made without consideration of the magnitude of problems confronting teenagers and their families. 'This is a huge quantity of herbal cannabis and I have no doubt there is a large-scale criminal operation behind it.' Chong, 24, a dealer in car parts, who had denied trafficking, looked stunned after sentence. Outside the court, prosecutor Jim Dick and defence counsel John McNamara said they were 'very surprised'. Mr Dick said: 'We have tried to get the Court of Appeal to put the sentences up in the past. But we were surprised at the severity of the sentence.'