A JUDGE has demanded a police crackdown on a website which sells cannabis seeds after warning that gardeners could choose to grow it instead of lettuce.
Judge John Neligan said he was shocked that seeds were being sold openly as he heard how an unemployed man had used them to set up a cannabis farm at his home in Westward Ho in North Devon.
Paul Cooley converted a built-in cupboard into a miniature nursery and his loft into a high tech growing area because he could not afford his £180 a week cannabis habit on weekly benefits of £70.
Judge Neligan spoke out after hearing at Exeter Crown Court that Cooley had bought the seeds and equipment on the internet.
He said: “I would like to know if the police have tapped into this website. If they cannot stop it everyone will be doing it and growing cannabis instead of lettuce. The police should take action immediately.
“This man bought the seeds on the internet, which is an alarming disclosure because anyone could do that and the sooner the police can stop it the better or everyone will be tempted to buy seeds and grow their own and other people may supply it.”
Cooley, aged 53, of Bay View Road, Westward Ho!, admitted production of cannabis and was jailed for six months, suspended for a year and ordered to pay £320 costs.
The judge told him: “You grew not much short of 1.5 kilograms and an experienced police investigator valued it at over £13,000 but there is no evidence you were supplying other people.
“The evidence divulges you were growing it for your own medical purposes and a letter from your GP shows you have been a regular cannabis user since 2006.”
Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said police raided the house in January and found three mother plants and 54 seedlings in a converted cupboard and 44 older plants in a growing unit in the loft. The drugs weighed 1.334 grams and had a potential street value of £13,341.
He said: “The defendant told police he used cannabis for back pain and depression and, rather strangely, bought the seeds on the internet. He said he previously spent £180 a week on cannabis but could not afford it on £70 a week benefits.”
Mr Nigel Wraith, defending, said a letter from Cooley’s doctor confirmed he used cannabis for medical purposes and had done so for many years to self medicate depression and back pain.