Businessman moves into illegal drug production

A TOOWOOMBA businessman is $5000 poorer after his move to diversify into cannabis production fell afoul of the law.

Steven Stewart Scott Stephens, 38, pleaded guilty in Toowoomba District Court yesterday to one count each of producing dangerous drugs and possessing explosives.

The court heard Stephens suffered from peripheral neuropathy related to his Type 2 Diabetes, causing numbness and pain in his feet.

For the defence, barrister David Jones told the court his "client used codeine to treat the condition" until federal government sale restrictions, introduced in February 2018, forced Stephens to seek alternative treatment.

It was then he found cannabis oil.

Mr Jones told the court his client did not use the drug recreationally but instead lined his socks with a cannabis oil compress to relieve the symptoms at night.

Prosecutor Matt Le Grand told the court Stephens and his nephew Joseph King devised a plan to grow cannabis in a "sophisticated" hydroponic lab at Stephens' Westbrook property to manufacture oil.

King, and a third co-accused, sold the excess cannabis to cover Stephens' costs.

"There was a commercial element to the operation," Mr Le Grand said.

The court heard the drug lab operated from June 1-July 16, 2019.

Police raids on King's property recovered a large quantity of cannabis, valued at $10,000, that came from Stephens' property.

A raid on Stephens' property recovered an elaborate hydroponic farm, valued at up to $15,000 and 18 plants, totalling about 200 grams, along with shotgun shells.

Mr Le Grand said text messages confirmed the intent to sell the drugs.

On March 12, King was sentence to 12 months' jail, with immediate parole, for two counts each of producing a dangerous drug, supplying dangerous drugs, and one count of possessing drugs.

The third co-accused received 12 months' probation for possessing drugs and drug utensils.

Yesterday Judge Jennifer Rosengren issued Stephens a $5000 fine to be paid within two weeks.

No conviction was recorded after taking into account Stephens' lack of criminal history and plans to develop a roadhouse into a bottle shop.