'I grew cannabis to ease heroin craving'
Essex Echo, February 15 2011
A FORMER heroin addict was caught growing cannabis in his Basildon retirement flat to ease his cravings.
Basildon magistrates electronic ally tagged Rodney Barr, 62, and banned him from going out between 10pm until 6am for a month, after he admitted growing the Class B drug at his flat in Helmores, Basildon.
His mini-cannabis factory had gone undetected for some time, the court heard with the plants being kept warm inside a makeshift tent in his flat.
He was only caught out when police on a routine patrol smelled something suspicious as they passed the flat on January 21.
They followed their noses inside, where they found eight mature cannabis plants.
Barr told the court he had he become addicted to heroin late in life and used cannabis as a way of weaning himself off the stronger drug.
His solicitor, Mark Jerman, told the bench: “It’s pretty unusual to have someone before the court for this sort of matter, particularly when you hear he became involved in cannabis as a way to remove himself from heroin use, which had only been in the past few years.”
Mr Jerman claimed his client had been surrounded by heroin users while living at Witchards, Basildon, and this had led him to take up the drug.
Instead of seeking professional help for his problem, Mr Jerman said Barr had effectively “self-medicated”, deciding to grow his own cannabis as a way of avoiding contact with drug dealers.
He described the growing set-up as relatively unsophisticated The court accepted the drugs had been grown purely for personal use and gave Barr a six-month community order, and a curfew.