A MAN who made, cannabis cookies and thousands of pounds in cash from a drugs farm he set up in his loft has been jailed.
William Smith set up a sophisticated growing system in his attic, complete with reflective sheeting, timers, lighting, fans and irrigation tubes – all capable of producing £30,000 worth of cannabis per year.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 64-year-old, who has never been in trouble before, made himself baked goods from each harvest to ease the pain of a serious spinal injury he suffered 30 years ago.
He sold on the rest to a single buyer at a discounted rate. Neil Pallister, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant accepts the estimated yield but states he did not sell for those values. He sold below street value, at £6,000 per yield and there were two to three yields per year, making £12,000 to £18,000 per year.”
Smith, of Graham Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and possession with intent to supply.
Judge Jeremy Freedman told him: “You know very well cannabis, albeit a Class B drug, causes much harm and misery within the community and that is why it is prohibited.
“To deal on this scale is a very serious matter. Maybe you sold principally to one person but that person would have distributed it elsewhere.
“I am afraid it is inevitable there must be an immediate prison sentence, I think you understand why.
“It gives me no pleasure to send someone of your age and previous good character to prison but my professional duty requires I do so.” The judge jailed Smith for 20 months.
The court heard Smith’s illegal set-up was uncovered in February due to the smell coming from the house.
Mr Pallister said: “Officers attended the address because of the strong smell of cannabis actually coming from the address.
“The defendant was present.
“When spoken to and asked if there was a cannabis farm in the address, he immediately said yes and invited the officers in.
“He directed them to the loft, where the officers found a cannabis farm.”
The court heard the loft was split into two “growing areas”, one containing 45 plants and the other with 43 previously harvested plants.
Mr Pallister said: “He accepts he was solely responsible for the cannabis farm and accepts the majority of the crop was sold on to one individual with the remainder used by the defendant to alleviate pain caused by a medical problem.”
Rachel Mangenie, defending, said Smith was badly injured in a fall from a roof 30 years ago and started using cannabis to help with the pain around 10 years later.
The court heard Smith started producing his own crop around four years ago.
Miss Mangenie said: “He stopped smoking some years ago due to medical advice.
“Instead, he baked the cannabis, using it in cookies and cakes.”
Miss Mangenie said Smith’s arrest prompted him to stop the illegal drug use and he is now on prescription pain killers.
She added: “He has demonstrated genuine remorse.”