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Tallaght mum with arthritis grew 'awful lot' of cannabis plants for relief, court hears

Accused had €4,800 worth of plants in her house when gardaí raided it

Cannabis plants (stock) (PA)

Andrew Phelan

A mother-of-three caught growing six cannabis plants in her home had been using the drug to self-medicate for arthritis.

Angela Howe (50) had €4,800 worth of plants in the house when gardaí raided it, but the drug was all for her own personal use and she was not selling it, a court heard.

Judge Patricia McNamara said it was an "awful lot" of cannabis and adjourned the case for a probation report.

Ms Howe, of Donomore Park, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to cultivation of cannabis.

Tallaght District Court heard a search was carried out at the accused's address on July 26, 2020 and six cannabis plants worth €800 each were found.

One was at a mature stage and the other five were at very early stages of growth. The total value was €4,800.

She was fully co-operative with the investigation and told gardaí she was cultivating the drug for her own personal use as she had medical issues.

She said she did not know it was illegal. The gardaí were satisfied she was not selling drugs into the community, and there were no signs of extreme wealth in the house.

"It's still an awful lot," the judge said.

A report from a doctor said Howe was getting "great relief" from cannabis but was not prescribed it.

Howe had no previous drugs convictions.

Defence solicitor Michael Hennessy said Ms Howe was self-medicating for arthritis and to help her sleep but accepted now that it was illegal.

Ms Howe had last worked as a receptionist and seemed to be "quite physically uncomfortable" due to her arthritis, Mr Hennessy said.

Judge McNamara told Ms Howe she could have faced going to the circuit court, with a maximum potential sentence there of 14 years.

She said the accused was fortunate that she had accepted jurisdiction to keep the case in the district court.

"There is a reason cannabis is illegal," she told the accused, adding that it was "not good for your health" and Howe was "probably addicted to it".

The accused said she was no longer growing any cannabis plants.

Judge McNamara ordered a probation report, including assessment for community service suitability.

She also told the accused to take a drugs awareness course.

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