A Queensland businessman has been spared a jail term and instead fined A$10,000 after insisting a cannabis growing operation in his backyard was intended for medicinal purposes only.
After police intercepted a package sent in Mark Christopher Rowe’s name containing cannabis seeds, they discovered a greenhouse on his Sarina property containing more than 150 cannabis plants, 15,000 seeds and production equipment.
While Mackay District Court was told the 51-year-old had only intended to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes and believed his actions were in the best interests of the community, he had not applied for a licence to do so.
The court heard Rowe’s wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, while he suffered from depression and anxiety, had previously self-medicated with cannabis and now held a legal prescription for the medicine.
“His motive for the production was to research different strains of cannabis in anticipation of a legislative change about cannabis use,” defence barrister Scott McLennan said, adding he used the CBD to make butters and oils.
“He wasn’t motivated by greed and… he had the community’s best intention in mind.”
Rowe denied any commercial intent pending future legislative change, but pleaded guilty to aggravated drug possession, producing and possessing cannabis and possessing items used to produce drugs.
Crown prosecutor Siobhan Harrison told the court Rowe “wanted to get into the business of making medicinal cannabis”.
“He told police he was trying to get ahead of the curve and had not started his application to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes,” she added.
Handing Rowe a $10,000 fine to be paid within six months, judge Deborah Richards told him: “You have a degree so you’re not stupid. You were well aware that what you were doing was illegal and you were willing to take the risk.
“I’m less sympathetic than I might be if you were someone who is uneducated and just didn’t realise the gravity of what you were doing.”
Convictions were recorded.