A DIABETIC rented an industrial unit and grew 165 cannabis plants so he could stockpile two years worth of drugs to help him sleep.
Text marketing consultant Dylan Gresty, aged 53, planned to use his entire crop himself in night-time cannabis tea drinks to counteract the painful side effects of his illness.
Police swooped on his plants at a lock-up garage in Westward Ho! near Bideford, before he was able to harvest a single plant.
He intended to freeze the drugs so they would last him for two years.
Gresty told Exeter Crown Court he had been spending up to £200 a week buying the drug from street dealers and set up his two growing rooms so he could have his own supply.
He hired the workshop unit in Atlantic Way as an office but could not get a broadband line installed so decided to use it to grow his own drugs instead.
He told the owner he needed the lights and fans because he was planning to breed exotic corn snakes and pythons.
He spent more than £2,000 setting up the operation and the plants seized by police would have produced £9,000 worth of cannabis.
Gresty, of West Yelland, Barnstaple, admitted producing cannabis but a special hearing was held to determine whether he had been doing so for profit.
Recorder Mr Nicholas Wood ruled in his favour after being told there was no evidence that he had any cash, lists of clients, scales or bags.
The recorder said: "The whole idea of producing cannabis in this way for the sole purpose of self-medication is somewhat far fetched, the objective observer may think.
"However, this is the trial of a criminal issue and I am not satisfied on the basis of the quantity alone that his account is false and he does have some corroboration from his doctor so far as his medical condition is concerned."
The recorder adjourned the case for a pre sentence report and warned Gresty he could still face jail.
Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, said police raided the unit last December.
He said: "The defendant was a producer of cannabis of a quantity and in a sophisticated manner far in excess of what could be needed for personal use."
Gresty said he was diabetic and suffers from a side effect which causes pain in his feet which is so severe it prevents him sleeping.
He said: "I looked on the internet and other people suggested trying cannabis. I tried it in cake at first but then I always had it as tea.
"I stopped when the police raided me.
"At one time I was buying an ounce a week and spending up to £200 so I figured if I grew two years' supply I would save a lot of money.
"All I was interested in was getting to sleep at night.
"It was always my intention to put it in the freezer. It was all for my personal use. I never had any intention of selling any of it."
Gresty said he had been a breeder of snakes in the past and had considered doing so at the unit.
That was why he had a stock of dead mice in his freezer which had baffled the police who raided his home.