THE vocal advocate for the legislation of medicinal cannabis and proprietor of Crescent Head's Mullaways Medical Cannabis, Tony Bower, was sentenced to 12 months jail on Thursday.
Bower, 58, of Maria River Road, appeared in Port Macquarie Local Court before Magistrate Thomas Hodgson charged under the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, (23)(a), for the cultivation of a commercial quantity of cannabis at his Crescent Head property.
Magistrate Hodgson sentenced him to 12 months' jail, with a non-parole period of nine months - after which he would be placed on supervised parole.
Bower has lodged an appeal over the severity of the sentence, and will appear in Port Macquarie District Court on October 7.
He was placed on unconditional bail until his appeal hearing.
The court heard that on April 6, police from the Mid North Coast Local Area Command were conducting helicopter cannabis eradication duties in the Hastings district, in conjunction with Strike Force Hyperion.
Officers on board the NSW Police helicopter flew over Bower's property on Maria River Rd, where they identified cannabis plants.
The discovery was relayed to officers on the ground, who subsequently attended the property and spoke to the defendant.
Through his business, Mullaways Medical Cannabis, Bower claims to be "at the forefront of medical cannabinoid research and development" and has been leading a push for the legislation of medical marijuana.
He admitted to police he was responsible for the 67 cannabis plants growing on his property.
The plants, neatly potted in several rows, were located in a large enclosure adjacent to a bush humpy.
Police said the plants ranged in height from 10cms to one metre, and all looked healthy and well-cared for.
The larger plants were supported with wooden stakes, and many of them were marked with specific numbers.
Bower told police the numbered plants signified a "sick kid" for whom he had grown the cannabis .
The defendant said he was extremely attentive to the health of his plants, many of which were heavily in bud.
He reportedly told police proudly he was "the best cannabis grower in Australia", but denied receiving any payment for the distribution of the product.
Bower said he delivered liquid cannabis from his property to more than 400 customers around Australia and claims the demand is growing.