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"What do you do with a man who is hopelessly addicted?"

FOR 36 years James Paul Bigbee has been addicted to cannabis.

Raised in a "cult", with an alcoholic father who was part of the early push to legalise marijuana in the United States, Bigbee, 47, was first introduced to the drug at nine by a drug pusher who would go on to abuse him.

By age 11 Bigbee was a regular user. Over the past 25 years Bigbee has been before Queensland courts 17 times for possessing or producing cannabis.

In July last year police raided his Redbank Plains property, where they found almost 30kg of leafy cannabis material, 8kg of smokeable cannabis, and enough frozen drug to make a year's worth of hash oil.

The police executed a search warrant on the 36.5ha property and searched two demountable buildings and a barn.

Police found boxes of cannabis plant material Bigbee had discarded, as well as drug equipment. One of the demountable buildings was a deconstructed growing and drying room with equipment from a large hydroponic set-up.

Across the property they found enough cannabis to last a heavy user up to 285 days, and enough frozen cannabis to make hash oil for a year. The court heard Bigbee had grown the plants for his own use, and planned to smoke it over the next year.

The Crown prosecutor said despite the amount of cannabis there was no evidence it was a commercial set-up.

Bigbee told police at the time he used the drug for "medicinal" purposes and believed he couldn't live without it. Bigbee repeatedly told police during the search his wife and children had no knowledge of his drug operation. Judge Greg Koppenol said Bigbee's personal history was a tragic.

"What do you do with a man who is hopelessly addicted?" he said.

He said according to medical reports his dependence could, in large part, be traced to his abuse as a child and early introduction to the drug.

He said it was an achievement for Bigbee to remain out of the courts for eight years considering his addiction to cannabis.

"If there had been commercial motivation the penalty would be significantly higher," he said.

He sentenced him to two years prison with immediate release on parole. Judge Koppenol said if Bigbee breached the regular drug tests he would face an immediate period of jail.

Topics:  ipswich magistrates court, parole




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