A man caught with an “amateur” cannabis growing operation in his home claimed it was to relieve back pain and hopes “there is light at the end of the tunnel” for his suffering when the law changes to allow doctors to prescribe the drug, a court heard on Monday.
Evan Valentine Marshall (32), of Ballybogey Road, Ballybogey, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to charges of cultivating cannabis and possessing the Class B drug.
A prosecutor said police searched Marshall’s home on September 13 this year and found three cannabis plants, seven seedlings and seven grammes of herbal cannabis in an upstairs bedroom.
The prosecutor said the plants had a street value of £1,500 and the lose cannabis was worth £140.
The prosecutor said the drugs were growing in “a very amateur set-up”.
No one was at home when police carried out the “intelligence-led” raid but when interviewed the defendant said he was attempting to grow cannabis as he was “self-medicating” for back pain.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said his client had a disc-related back problem and handed in a medical letter of confirmation to the court.
He said the back pain was as a result of a work-related injury.
Mr Rafferty said the defendant now had no income and was a “kept man,” living with his partner who works.
The barrister said the government recently carried out a review in relation to cannabis related items and his client “was hopeful there is light at the end of tunnel” regarding the changes.
That was in reference to Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying in recent days doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients from November 1.
The new regulations apply to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The BBC reported that Mr Javid decided to relax the rules on when cannabis products could be given to patients after a review into medicinal cannabis earlier this year.
This followed an outcry over Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell being denied access to cannabis oil.
The parents of the two young epilepsy sufferers said the product helped to control their seizures.
At Coleraine Court on Monday, District Judge Paul Copeland said as it stood Marshall had “broken the law”.
He told the defendant the possession and cultivation of cannabis “is, and remains” illegal.
Fining the defendant £1,000, the judge said it was not acceptable what the defendant did and that “the law makes no provision for you to do this”.