ILLEGAL FIND: Nine marijuana plants were found growing in a Gladstone home.
ILLEGAL FIND: Nine marijuana plants were found growing in a Gladstone home. Stuart Cumming

Man grew, smoked marijuana to cope with his back pain

A MAN has been found growing marijuana at his home for a second time.

Mark Allan Balmer, 45, pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court to growing marijuana, possessing marijuana, possessing equipment used to grow the plants and possessing a bong.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens said police searched Balmer's Gladstone home on November 29 last year.

Sgt Stevens said police found nine marijuana plants, 1.2kg of dried marijuana, a plastic bong and equipment including scales, hosing and an air conditioning unit.

He said Balmer's wife and six-year-old child were home at the time of the search.

Lawyer Jun Pepito said his client was worried a drug conviction on his record would stop him from being able to visit his wife's family in the Philippines.

Mr Pepito said Balmer used to work at a gas plant but had injured his back in a work accident.

He said Balmer could now only perform light duties, but had been unemployed for the past two years.

Mr Pepito said Balmer grew the marijuana to smoke, as a way of managing his back pain.

He said the Balmer family was originally from the Gold Coast, but had moved here for cheap rent with the hope of finding work.

Mr Pepito said the family had recently moved back to the Gold Coast and Balmer was now using prescribed medications to deal with his pain.

He said Balmer had been addicted to marijuana but had stopped using it since his arrest.

Magistrate Melanie Ho said Balmer had faced court for growing marijuana before, although that time he was found with 109 plants.

Ms Ho said for that offence in 2012 he was sentenced to 18 months probation and 120 hours community service.

She said the following year his sentence was revoked and he was given a $1200 fine instead.

This time Balmer was given three months in jail, suspended for 18 months.



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