A TAOIST monk could face jail after police uncovered a £12,600 cannabis farm growing in his home.
Holy man Michael Martin claimed the drug was for his own use, and explained he was smoking up to 15 joints a day in a bizarre scheme to try and remove the substance from his life.
Former civil servant Martin gave up work eight years ago to become a fully-fledged Taoist monk, a philosophy which involves a series of intense exercises day and night.
But despite being out of work and receiving just £140 a fortnight on benefits, the 39-year-old splashed out £400 on specialist equipment to set up a drug farm in an upstairs bedroom in his home in Wilson Street, Hartlepool.
Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard how Martin previously overcame drink problems by flooding his body with alcohol and experiencing all of the “negative effects both physically and spiritually”.
And Martin claimed he was planning to do exactly the same with cannabis to rid his body of the drug he has been taking since he was 16 years old.
But the monk’s bizarre plan came crashing down when police attended his home in April this year after receiving reports of an insecure front door and discovered 28 cannabis plants, worth £12,600, as well as nine lamps and transformers.
Martin pleaded guilty to producing a controlled class B drug but will have to await his fate after magistrates sent the case to Teesside Crown Court.
Lynne Roberts-Ploughman, prosecuting, said: “At 9.30am on April 20 police attended an address in Hartlepool following reports of an insecure door.
“They arrived and located a cannabis farm in an upstairs front bedroom.
“While the police were there, the defendant arrived and said ‘I live here, they are all mine’.”
Dave Smith, mitigating, described Martin as “not the average visitor to this court”.
The defendant has featured in the Mail in the past and explained how he got into the Taoist practice through an interest in martial arts.
Those who practice the Taoist culture attempt to live in a certain way to unite the mind, body and spirit in order to get the most out of each one.
The court heard how Martin studied under an experienced Taoist monk and practices meditation and yoga on a daily basis.
Mr Smith said: “Mr Martin is an articulate and intelligent man, and fully understands that what he was doing is illegal.
“He was smoking 10-15 joints a day and this concerned him in relation to the lifestyle of a monk. His plan was to take in a vast amount of cannabis so he took in all the negative effects.”
Mr Smith continued: “He has had alcohol problems in the past and the course he took was to over-indulge in alcohol and flood the system so he experienced all the negative effects both physically and spiritually and he was able to rid his life of alcohol.
“He planned to do this with cannabis but the difficulty arose because in order to get the amount he needed was firstly extremely expensive and would also open him up to some rather unsavoury characters, so he set about growing his own.
“This isn’t an excuse I have heard often before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a believable one.”
The crown court date is yet to be set.