A MAN who by-passed the electrical supply at a Cinderford industrial unit to grow cannabis has avoided jail – but has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £1,150.

Police who raided the unit in Speculation Road found two cannabis farms with 60 plants.

Gloucester Crown Court heard the plants could have yielded between £16,800 and £50,400 in street deals.

Jonathan McLean, 30, of The Paddocks, Wyesham, Monmouth said he used the cannabis himself to treat the pain from a head injury he suffered as a child.

Prosecutor Charlotte Evans said that on March 31 this year police attended an industrial unit in Speculation Road at the Forest Vale Industrial Estate in Cinderford at 10am and forced entry. Inside there were two containers that were locked but when entry was gained the officers found two cannabis growing farms in operation.

“The first container had 28 plants growing in it and the second had 32 plants,” said the prosecutor. “Bags of discarded cannabis stalks were also found at the unit.

“An engineer from Western Power attended the site as the meter had been bypassed. The police also discovered a number of computer towers being used for the purpose of crypto currency.

The court heard that McLean handed himself into the police later that morning.

He admitted that he had diverted the electricity after researching how to do it on the internet.

“McLean’s phone was also seized, but there was no evidence of drug dealing on it, backing up his story.” The prosecutor concluded.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC quizzed the prosecutor and asked why was this case being heard in the Crown Court rather than by magistrates. The lower court would have been the correct place for the case, he said.

Ms Evans said she did not have an answer but she suspected the case had been miscategorised

Rhianna Fricker, defending, said: “McLean suffered from a serious head injury at the age of eight when he fell from his scrambler bike and his head hit a wood chipper. This injury required extensive surgery.

“Since becoming an adult, he has medicated the effects of the ongoing brain injury for a number of years with cannabis. But in January of this year he became frustrated and began the legal process of trying to obtain medical grade marijuana on prescription. He was successful in this just a week ago.

“He maintains that because of his frustration at the time his intention was to extract the Cannabidiol Oil (also known as CBD) from the plants to alleviate his medical condition. This process only uses about 10 per cent of the plant.

“He would have had to grow a lot of plants to produce the oil he needed.

“He is currently a chef and runs a food truck which is used at festivals. 

“McLean is not currently drawing a salary from this business, but hopes to next year. He has taken these proceedings seriously.”

McLean admitted that between February 28 and March 31, he produced a controlled drug of class B, namely cannabis in Cinderford.

Judge Lawrie told McLean: “In reality you should have been dealt with in a more timely aspect at the magistrates court closer to the date of your arrest.

“However I understand the context in which this offence was committed and were growing the plants in order to make cannabis oil, but in doing this you did break the law and you need to be punished.

“I am pleased you are taking a more legitimate approach to this problem and I wish you well with this.”

The judge fined McLean £500 and ordered him to pay a contribution towards court costs of £450 and pay a mandatory surcharge of £200.