A former Westminster parliamentary candidate and anti-war activist avoided being sent to prison yesterday after police found a cannabis farm at his Aberdeenshire home.
Paul Cruickshank was caught with nearly £1,000 worth of illegal plants, leaves and seedlings during a police raid on his Peterhead flat.
Heating lamps, electric lamps and even specialist magazines aimed at cannabis connoisseurs were also seized by officers in September last year.
The 35-year-old was found guilty after a two-day trial earlier this year, in which he openly admitted growing cannabis for his own personal use.
Cruickshank had tendered a not-guilty plea however, claiming that because the war in Iraq was illegal, no other laws in the UK should apply.
Cruickshank, of 6e Crossfolds Crescent, was brought back to Peterhead Sheriff Court yesterday and sentenced to 300 hours of community service.
As well as the drugs charges, Cruickshank also admitted 17 counts of writing anti-war slogans on walls, bins and electricity boxes in and around Peterhead including at the town’s golf club and at sites along the old railway trackbed.
Sheriff Marysia Lewis told him: “This case does involve the production of cannabis in your home and there was a reasonable-sized quantity.
“Your position has always been that this was for your own personal use and it was not for any financial gain.”
She said the unpaid work would be “payback to the community”.
Cruickshank stood for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance party in Orkney at the 2005 general election. He received nearly 2% of the vote and finished just behind the Ukip candidate.
The former joiner has also worked with Amnesty International and is involved in a campaign to put the UK Government on trial for war crimes.
The jury took less than 10 minutes to unanimously find Cruickshank guilty.
Speaking outside the court, Cruickshank said he was happy to do community service.
“I had been on a beach clean before and even if I hadn’t been ordered by a court, I was determined to go back and finish the job. I don’t mind doing my bit to clean up the community.”
He said the sentence would stop him growing cannabis, but not smoking it.
“This hasn’t put me off cannabis at all,” he said. “It’s one of the best medicines you can get.”
The trial heard that police found six plants growing behind a “false wall” in Cruickshank’s hallway cupboard.
Cruickshank told the jury he used cannabis to treat depression and likened the police raid on his home to being tortured, claiming his human rights had been breached.