Cannabis grower gets home detention

By Imran Ali -

A drug user's claim that he cultivated cannabis at home for the relief of back and neck ache did not wash with a judge.

Paul Haslam, 33, earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating cannabis and appeared for sentencing in the Whangarei District Court yesterday.

He grew cannabis at his Hikurangi home where he lived with his partner and a young child.

Judge Duncan Harvey said on May 28, 2012, a search warrant was executed at Haslam's home where officers recovered 12 cannabis seedlings from a tray, two mature cannabis plants and an indoor cannabis growing set-up in a shed.

Haslam was spoken to at the Whangarei Police Station a day later and claimed he used cannabis for the relief of back and neck ache.

Judge Harvey said he had grave reservations that Haslam cultivated that many plants for personal use as it was more than a backyard operation and was relatively sophisticated.

Had there been evidence that he was selling the drug, the judge said Haslam would have gone to jail.

Haslam went cold turkey in that he did not wish to be treated for his back and neck pains, Judge Harvey said.

Haslam had 43 previous convictions of which six were cannabis-related, he said.

Crown prosecutor David Stevens said the effects of cannabis was well-known and that premeditation was involved in the offending.

Haslam's lawyer Megan Scally submitted that although he had a history of cannabis offending, there was no conviction for commercial dealing.

He has a track record of complying with community-based sentences, she said.

Ms Scally said Haslam was trying to re-enter work in the construction sector after six years caring for his sick father.

Judge Harvey said children in the house where cannabis was recovered did not know of the drug cultivation.

He sentenced him to six months' home detention and ordered that he perform 200 hours' community work.

An order for the destruction of the growing equipment was made.

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