“God gave me a licence” to grow pot, court told

A man accused of growing cannabis in his vegetable patch told police that God had given him a licence to do so, a court has heard.

Police searched Matthew and Elizabeth Pallett's Carrum Downs home last May, and found about 15 and a half kilograms of cannabis in various forms, ledgers referring to the people they provided it to and drug paraphernalia, the County Court heard on Thursday.

Mr and Mrs Pallett have each been charged with one count of cultivating cannabis. Both maintain their innocence.

Prosecutor Andy Moore told a jury on the first day of their trial: "They both freely admitted to growing cannabis plants. They said they did it for medicinal purposes but each acknowledged they didn't have a licence [to do this]."

He quoted Mr Pallett as saying in his police interview: "God gave me a licence. He's the only one who can issue a licence."

Mr Moore said the couple had told police they did not operate a commercial business but made "medicinal cannabis" to help alleviate the pain of sick people, including cancer patients.

Mr Pallett had described the couple's home as a "civilian medical clinic" while Mrs Pallett had told police they "used cannabis to cure cancer cells" and other conditions, he said.

The prosecutor also said the couple had argued that the law which prohibited growing cannabis was wrong, with Mr Pallett saying cannabis itself was harmless, and that "helping people avoid pain and death is not a crime".

Mr and Mrs Pallett, who are representing themselves in court, did not give an opening address. A number of their supporters attended court.

Mr Moore told the jury the prosecution would argue that the pair had broken the law by growing cannabis, regardless of "however pure and humanitarian the motive of the accused may well be".

He said jurors' role was to objectively analyse the evidence presented.

"This is not a test case about medicinal marijuana or cannabis, or whether the accused are good or well-motivated people at heart, or whether the law as it exists should be changed."

The trial, before Judge Bill Stuart, continues.