Cannabis Growers at Risk of Violence

The risks of growing cannabis come in many forms, not just being discovered and dragged through the courts.

Cannabis growers are also at risk of theft, blackmail, assault or worse.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, most cannabis is grown hydroponically, not farmed.

Not only police, but people interested in getting their hands on cannabis or money often look for tell-tale signs that cannabis is being grown on a property.

One mother was tragically shot in a bungled burglary in South Australia, when men who broke into her house to get her plants but accidently ended up shooting her.

The court was told that the three masked men only intended to use the gun to frighten the occupants before stealing the cannabis, but their plan went wrong.

The mother of three, Karen Hodgson was ordered back into a bedroom after the men entered her home, but as she did so, Kelly Pearman, the man who was holding a defective gun, accidently discharged it.

Many similar attacks have occurred in South Australia – which is the only Australian state to have decriminalised minor cannabis offences.

In that state, possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use, or not more than one cannabis plant, means that police have the discretion to deal with the matter by giving you an on the spot fine.

This means that users can avoid going to court or getting a criminal record.

Although cannabis possession is still a criminal offence in NSW, police here can also issue a ‘cannabis caution’ in certain situations, which also means that users stay out of court and are not given a criminal record.

Another cannabis related break-in occurred right here in NSW several years ago.

Burwood Local Court heard that a gang broke into a family home early one morning and dragged the occupants out of bed, demanding to know where their cannabis plants were.

A mother and daughter were then sexually assaulted, while other gang members removed the plants from the cellar of the house.

Meanwhile, the father was hit with a rifle and, while attempting to escape, had his arm sliced to the bone with a machete.

Thieves will often look for signs of drug cultivation before they select their target – such as blacked out windows, the smell of illegal drugs, people bringing in large amounts of chemicals or fertiliser, and large air vents on the house, garage or storage shed.

Other times break-ins are the result of insider knowledge from one of the people engaged in the manufacture or their friends.

And sadly, mistakes can lead to the wrong houses can be targeted.

For obvious reasons, those who are the victims of cannabis theft will often be reluctant to report the matter to police.

As one Adelaide woman found out, police will not hesitate to charge growers with drug manufacturing even after they are the victims of a theft.

That lady reported a break-in to police, who found three cannabis plants while they were investigating the incident.

Police seized the plants and charged the woman with drug cultivation.

The penalties for drug cultivation vary depending on the quantity grown.

For a small number of plants – which is likely to be the case for many backyard growers – there is a two-year maximum prison term or a fine of $2,000.

In a similar incident, a 35-year-old man reported an incident where six men smashed a front window of his home.

Police could not find the culprits, but they did notice six large cannabis plants growing hydroponically and charged him with drug cultivation.

And one Northern Territory woman reported her stolen handbag which she knew contained $100 worth of cannabis. In fact, she even admitted in her statement that she owned the stolen drugs.

And if you were planning to recover your losses under insurance, don’t get your hopes up as insurance companies will obviously not cover you for illegal items.

The message is: be careful, as growing cannabis can have consequences beyond a criminal conviction and potential prison sentence.

Ugur Nedim About Ugur Nedim
Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Drug Defence Lawyers.

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