Dope grower stole electricity to help self medicate

STEALING electricity while growing marijuana in a home hydroponic nursery is what landed an elderly Cooran man with a steep fine in Maroochydore District Court.

Police seized more than 43 cannabis plants in various stages of growth when they raided James Meiklejohn's Cooran home on March 19 last year.

Meiklejohn, 58, pleaded guilty to all charges of growing the drug as well as having two feeds on his electricity so that his hydroponic operation avoided electricity costs.

It was this "aggravated circumstance" that forced Judge John Robertson to impose a heftier $3000 fine.

The court heard Meiklejohn, who suffered from depression, had been growing the cannabis for "personal use".

Defence Barrister Malcolm Harrison said Meiklejohn had been part of the QMerit program, a bail-based diversion program for defendants with illicit drug use.

But he had failed 14 of the program's drug tests between May and August last year.

"The last eight were in his favour," Mr Harrison told the court.

Judge Robertson did not agree with the Crown Prosecutor's argument Meiklejohn could not benefit from having youth on his side in sentencing.

"You have got to 58 with no problems with the law, otherwise you have been a law-abiding citizen and that is in your favour," Judge Robertson said.

"Clearly this system was set up to provide for yourself self-medication for your depression. You need to go to your GP to get advice."

A conviction was recorded.



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