David Drews and Lavonda Maloy outside the Bundaberg Courthouse.
David Drews and Lavonda Maloy outside the Bundaberg Courthouse.

Court fines cancer patient over plot of 730 seedlings

METALWORK artist David Drews intended to self-medicate after undergoing surgeries for tongue cancer, but a raid of his rural home thwarted his plans when police found 730 small cannabis plants.

The seedlings were seized, as well as insect killer, the District Court at Bundaberg heard.

Drews, 48, pleaded guilty to unlawfully producing marijuana (not exceeding 1000 plants) at Deepwater between December 31, 2015, and October 12, 2016.

He also pleaded guilty to marijuana possession on October 11 last year, unlawful possession of a weapon - shotgun and explosives (ammunition), and possessing items used to commit drug offences (a water pump and fertiliser).

Judge William Everson noted that even Drews' insect killer was confiscated and asked, because of the shotgun, if commerciality was being alleged.

He also asked if the weapon had a serial number, or had that disappeared.

Crown prosecutor Clare Kelly said no commerciality was alleged, Drews telling police he found the shotgun and used it to kill snakes.

"He made full admissions that he was growing plants because he'd been diagnosed with tongue cancer.

"His intent was to make cannabis oil and inject it as treatment," she said.

Ms Kelly said there was no evidence Drews was a drug user and no bongs or water pipes were found.

Defence barrister Simone Bain, instructed by lawyer Lavonda Maloy, said Drews was diagnosed with tongue cancer in May last year and had undergone three surgeries to remove the cancer and had skin grafts, attending a Brisbane hospital.

Ms Bain said there had been naturopath and medical reports on THC cannabis oils, and where teas may be made to assist in the recovery from cancer.

Police had found a magazine article at Drews home on the ability of the oils to destroy cancer cells.

Ms Bain said the 730 plants found were still seedlings and Drews otherwise had led a relatively blameless life.

Judge Everson said Drews was not a young man and a conviction was unlikely to impact on his employment.

He said while there were a lot of plants found in a clearing at the property and a sophisticated watering system, the plants were tiny, with 80% no more than 3cm.

Judge Everson accepted it was not a commercial operation.

"You propagated the crop to obtain medicinal cannabis to treat yourself," he said.

"Although medical marijuana is becoming available legally, it is very important that this is controlled and deterrence is warranted in offending of this type."

Drews was fined $1000.

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