“Cannabis, you say? We thought it was Saffron…” couple tell court

Of all the excuses judges may have heard, this one takes some beating. An Anadia couple have told Aveiro court that they planted more than a thousand cannabis plants in a greenhouse, “initially thinking they were saffron”.

What a surprise it was when during a storm the greenhouse blew over, and the ‘grower’ who had asked them plant the plants “became very agitated”.

It was only at this point, the couple explained, that they realised what they were dealing with.

“We were open-mouthed”, the 34-year-old woman told the court – presumably alluding to surprise.

“I knew it was illegal, but I never imagined that it was a very big crime…” She continued.

And so the couple accepted another crop, the year later.

This time the duo was fully aware that the plants were not in fact saffron, but the 55-year-old man told the court that a Spanish man – the business partner of his brother – turned up in a van “loaded with plants in pots”, ready for a new plantation, and well…

“I didn’t want to do any of it”, the man explained. “But he insisted so much that I ended up accepting without knowing the risks I was running. I don’t know how I accepted a proposal like that”.

The man explained that the Spaniard promised to help him with €3000-worth of debts.

The case continues, writes Correio da Manhã – adding that prosecutors see the situation slightly differently.

According to the Public Ministry, the defendants “dedicated themselves to the cultivation of cannabis, as well as to the preparation and treatment of the final product, including its packaging and weighing for distribution and sale to third parties”.

Investigators say the defendants “increased the height of their walls, and prepared existing installations totally for the production of cannabis, from germination of seeds to the drying of the leaves”.

The police investigation ended with searches at the couple’s property last May in which “around 1,600 plants were seized along with a bag containing roughly 3.5 kgs of cannabis leaves”.

The haul was enough to prepare more than 27,000 individual doses and would have had a street value of around €177,000, says CM.

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