CANNABIS growing has reached epidemic proportions, a crown court judge has said.
Judge Geraint Walters was speaking in the case of a man who came under pressure over a £2,000 drugs debt and agreed to grow cannabis plants at his home so that he could pay it off.
But police discovered them after a female made an abandoned call from the property in Wrexham.
Officers went to check, could smell cannabis from outside and saw condensation on the windows. Inside they found a grow tent in a bedroom with plants.
Cannabis was in the process of being harvested, explained prosecutor Emmalyne Downing.
Dominic Marsh,of Pont Wen, Caia Park, admitted cannabis production last October but avoided immediate custody.
Marsh, 37, said to have a long-standing addiction to cannabis and cocaine, received an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was sent on a two-year drug rehabilitation course and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work.
Judge Walters, sitting at Mold Crown Court yesterday, said it was a “make or break” time for Marsh, who he said was young enough to change direction.
He said the reason people invested in the necessary equipment was they thought they could get a ready and useful source of significant sums of money.
“Growing cannabis in this way is becoming an epidemic,” he said.
“It is an epidemic because it is an easy way to make money by criminal gangs.
“There will be from time to time people daft enough to give in to the demands being made of them.”
He said the courts would do everything it could to deter such activities.
Marsh had come under pressure to do it – and had been candid enough to tell the probation officer that he could not quite see himself living without cannabis which was not a surprise because it had become a way of life.
He also suffered from depression – but the long term use of cannabis could often cause depression, the judge said.
“People who think that cannabis is not harmful should sit in courts like this hearing stories like the one that has been told about you today,” he said.
The drug rehabilitation course was aimed at helping him and could be rewarding if he was able to turn his back on that which had blighted his life for years.
The court heard 15 plants and five piles of harvested cannabis had been found by the police with an estimated value of £6,000 wholesale or £12,000 retail.
Arrested, he told how he owned a drugs debt, was asked to grow cannabis on behalf of his supplier, initially refused but was threatened and had been growing the plants for about 13 weeks.
Ceri Evans, defending, said Marsh had made early admissions, was anxious to co-operate with drug rehabilitation, and was motivated to address his long term use of drugs.
A £2,000 drugs debt had built up because of his use of cannabis and he resorted to desperate measures to pay it off, she said.