POT SMOKING POP GETS OFF
A 65-YEAR-OLD pensioner escaped with a suspended jail sentence after successfully arguing $460,000 worth of cannabis found in his Bilambil Heights home was for his own use.
James Paterson, now of Beltane Drive, Bilambil, pleaded guilty in Tweed Heads local court yesterday to possessing and cultivating cannabis on October 10 last year.
Police said they found a sophisticated hydroponic growing system connected to electronic timing devices when they executed a search warrant on his home in Lakeview Terrace, Bilambil Heights.
They said three rooms in the house had been devoted to the operation, with two dedicated to growing the plants and a third to strike cuttings.
They found 92 plants ranging in height from 10cm to 70cm and two plastic clip bags of cannabis in the freezer and cannabis drying on a bed.
Police estimated that the street value of the cannabis seized was more than $460,000.
James Paterson, now of Beltane Drive, Bilambil, told the court through his solicitor he was using the cannabis to self-medicate for depression and lower back pain after conventional treatment failed.
There was no evidence of any of the paraphernalia usually associated with dealers such as scales or a large amount of plastic bags, the court was told.
Police said they found a sophisticated growing system connected to electronic timing devices when they exe- cuted a search warrant on his home. They said three rooms in the house had been devoted to the operation.
Paterson explained that he had 92 plants to compensate for his first attempt at growing the drug which turned out to be a dismal failure.
Magistrate Elaine Schnelle noted that Paterson had no prior record and accepted that he started to use the drug to treat depression.
She imposed a 12-month jail sentence but suspended it on condition that he entered a 12-month good behaviour bond.