AN Axminster man who grew 74 cannabis plants in his home has defended his right to smoke the drug.
Steven Wayne Kelly, 33, who carried out community work for growing the plants last year, said the smell it caused was no stronger than curry.
His comments come after Millwey Rise residents complained to the Herald last month that their homes were being infiltrated by the whiff of the Class B drug.
And police and council officials said they were powerless to act.
Mr Kelly said: “I have every right to smoke in my own house if I wish. I am breaking no laws and this has been investigated by police at least twice.
“If I was an ethnic minority person cooking curries all the time, their complaints would constitute racism and victimisation. But because I am a white, single male, they feel justified to complain when, in reality, there is very little, if any, smell.”
He said he smokes an average of one to two cigarettes a day, with a small amount of cannabis.
He added he tried to reduce the smell by covering all the vents in his flat and using air freshener.
Mr Kelly, of Bonners Causeway, pleaded guilty to growing cannabis last year but said it had been for personal use.
He admitted he had made a mistake but said he was now trying to turn his life around.
He said: “I am trying to get on with my life and not let this get on top of me. Perhaps these people might like to do the same and stop trying to bully me.”
One resident, who did not wish to be named, previously told the Herald: “I’m just getting to the end of my tether and want to move out. It’s a vile smell and I have to hang air fresheners to try to kill the smell.”
An East Devon District Council spokesman said they would take action where there was a conviction, either for possession with intent to supply drugs, or where the premises are being used for ‘illegal or immoral purposes’.
A police spokesman said: “It’s very unpleasant for the complainants to have to put up with that but, unfortunately, someone smoking cannabis in their own home is not something that we would routinely obtain a warrant for.