By Roland Sebestyén
A man has been sentenced to a suspended prison term for growing cannabis plants worth more than £30,000 despite his claims that he cultivated them for personal medical reasons.
Chronic Live reports that former taxi driver Liam Jones, 44, of Byker, Newcastle, grew 75 plants to treat his chronic back pain as he said he was struggling to afford cannabis from a dealer.
The prosecutors didn’t believe him.
Prosecutor Neil Jones said: “If he couldn’t afford a dealer, how could he afford the capital for a very sophisticated growth construction in the loft?
“There were a large amount of wires and cables in the loft and ventilation tubes. Pictures show the professionalism and expense of setting it up. He said he had a condition from a spinal injury, and to some extent, it was to alleviate his pain and symptoms.
“The officer took the view this was a well-organised and sophisticated set-up, suggesting a degree of expertise.
“The cost of construction and maintenance of a cannabis growth area in the loft was an expensive and major undertaking.
“The officer went on to consider the habitual user and how much he might consume, and he took the view he didn’t expect the habitual user to produce this much entirely for personal use.”
Jones pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and was sentenced to 14 months jail time, suspended for two years.
The judge, who did not question the severity of Mr Jones’ medical condition, told him the sentence was only suspended because his “young family” would’ve suffered if he was imprisoned.
Recorder Andrew Smith said: “There was simply too much for anyone to use for personal use. It would have taken you several years to get through that crop.
“There’s no doubt you have a significant disability that causes you ongoing pain, and you have had the chronic condition for a long time.
“The court does not condone, in any way, the use of cannabis to alleviate that condition. You are expected to speak to your GP, who will provide the best medication and in some limited circumstances approved medicinal cannabis might be made available.”