Even outwardly respectable people risk being put behind bars if they grow their own cannabis, a sheriff has warned.
“I want everyone out there to know that,” said Sheriff Nikola Stewart at Lanark Sheriff Court.
She also stressed that the plea that cannabis was being grown for social supply for an accused and friends is not a defence.
“‘It’s for my pals’ is mitigation only, and it does not stop prison,” she said.
“I want that out there so people realise it is not a get-out-of-jail card.”
In the dock last Wednesday was Paul Casagranda, 49, of Meadowbrook, Auchengray, after being caught with the aftermath of a cannabis harvest in November last year.
He admitted producing a controlled drug and having that drug, herbal cannabis, with a value of thousands of pounds, with intent to supply it to others.
The court heard that two tents, two growing areas and the paraphernalia of cultivation had been found in his garage. There were no plants, only leaves on the floor, but then the cannabis was found.
Evidence of his cannabis production had been discovered by officers from HM Revenue and Customs there to execute a search warrant on a separate matter.
They discovered a double-locked garage door, then five bags of cannabis sitting on a makeshift table, and the police then followed with a drugs search warrant.
Depute fiscal Ziad Hassan said that officers found 143 grams of cannabis split into five 28-gram bags, around an ounce apiece and worth £200 each.
And there was a further 610 grams of cannabis, with an approximate value of £2,200, although Mr Hassan added that if sold in ounce deals, it could make £4,200.
“He’s got a lot of friends,” commented the sheriff.
Casagranda had told the police that he had allowed a friend who was going into hospital to keep the tents, the equipment and the cannabis in his garage but that the pal had subsequently died.
He had also told the police that the friend had delivered the tents already set up in a van.
“A pop-up cannabis farm is an intriguing notion,” Sheriff Stewart said. “Is that what he suggested?”
Solicitor Archie Hill appeared to dismiss that idea.
He told the court that Casagranda was a businessman with a haulage plant-operating business but that he had got the equipment from a friend who had set it up for him and he had grown the cannabis for himself.
Mr Hill pointed out that the police had found no fresh shoots, no cash and no ‘tick list’ of buyers
But the sheriff said that the decision had been taken to grow “enormous” quantities of the drug and added that this was happening too often, almost a fortnightly occurrence in court.
“It is commercial supply to friends,” she said. “He is not setting up a barrow in the street, but not for one moment is he saying he is giving it away.”
She called for background reports and deferred sentence until June 29.
The crown also applied for a hearing to look at confiscating his assets under the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act.