A SECOND crown court judge has raised concerns about Sheffield’s increasing problem with home-grown cannabis.
Judge Michael Murphy QC said there was a growing ‘cottage industry’ of drug users cultivating plants in spare rooms and lofts – and the courts are seeing more and more people arrested for the offence.
His comments came after his colleague the Recorder of Sheffield Judge Alan Goldsack QC pledged that anyone caught growing the drug – even for their own use – would receive a jail term.
Judge Murphy followed Judge Goldsack’s lead, handing a 12-month sentence to a man caught growing nine plants in his loft.
“Cannabis is becoming something of an epidemic here,” said Judge Murphy.
“It seems that in the last six months or so this offence has become something of a cottage industry.
“Not a day goes by without a case of this kind coming before us.”
Sheffield Crown Court heard Tony Hattersley, aged 31, of Yew Tree Drive, Tinsley, had been smoking cannabis for 15 years and started growing his own plants to save money.
Prosecutor Stephanie Hollis said police found nine mature plants in his loft – worth an estimated £4,500 – along with cultivation equipment and timers.
She said: “The crown accepts that it was primarily for personal use, only being sold on if there was a surplus.”
Hattersley received a caution for growing cannabis in 2007 and also has a conviction for possession, along with 47 convictions for other matters.
James Gould, defending, said despite a 15-year history of cannabis use Hattersley had always managed to hold down a job as a forklift truck driver.
He asked Judge Murphy to suspend the sentence.
But the judge handed Hattersley a 12-month immediate jail term and said: “You have breached community orders 13 times – no sentence could be suspended with any confidence. This was not a cannabis farm – it was more of a cannabis allotment, but there has to be an immediate custodial sentence.”
On Wednesday, The Star reported South Yorkshire’s most senior judge Alan Goldsack had pledged to clamp down on cannabis growing. He said: “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and those who bring it into existence must be punished.”