Man’s ‘medicinal’ drugs were worth thousands

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A man who claimed he grew cannabis to smoke for medicinal reasons has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Nigel Ratcliffe, 42, was sentenced for two counts of producing cannabis at houses in Huddersfield Road, Liversedge, and Old Bank Road, Mirfield.

Prosecutor Kate Bisset told Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday that police were called to the Huddersfield Road house in November 2010 after reports of a burglary.

Officers discovered 101 plants which, if harvested, would create 3.24 kilos of skunk cannabis with an estimated street value of £27,000.

Ratcliffe, of Huddersfield Road, pleaded guilty and was awaiting a crown court hearing when he was arrested for a second time.

In May 2012 police found another £6,500 worth of cannabis at another of his houses in Old Bank Road following reports of strange smells coming from inside.

Michael Greenhalgh, mitigating, said: “He has spent some time living and working in Holland where the attitude to cannabis is more relaxed than it is in England.

“He suffered work-related injuries, and was still using cannabis when he came back to the UK. He then suffered a knee-injury and took to self-medicating with it.”

Sentencing, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “You were growing cannabis for your own consumption, but it was clearly partly a commercial exercise as well.

“It involved a sophisticated breach of criminal law.”

Ratcliffe’s friend Ian Pickard, 50, also of Huddersfield Road, Liversedge, admitted being concerned with the production cannabis. He was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for a year and ordered to pay £400 costs.