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Hydroponics equipment supplier jailed

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This is so wrong, be interesting to see what happens if they appeal.



The owner of the Switched On Gardener chain of hydroponic stores has been sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

Judge Andree Wiltens refused the option of home detention as he sentenced Michael Quinlan in the Auckland District Court today.

General manager Peter Bennett, 43, was also sentenced, receiving a prison term of three years and nine months.

The men were found guilty in December of supplying equipment for cultivating cannabis, but both were acquitted of being part of an organised criminal group.

Stoneware 91, the trading name for Switched on Gardener, and Hydroponic Wholesalers were fined $125,000 each.

Judge Wiltens said Switched on Gardener operated "close to the edge" as a significant proportion of its business activity was cannabis-related.

"What was going on was prevalent but also well known by everyone.


"While on its own this is not illegal, putting that facts together, with the way the company conducted its business, it simply added to the companies' overall picture."

The judge said Quinlan was culpable, whether he was aware of the criminal activity or simply turned a blind eye to it.

"There was an obligation on you. You had a responsibility because of your position. You had a ability to do something about it, but you failed to do it."

He dismissed the defence's argument that Bennett was unaware of the criminal activity.


Police raided Switched on Gardener stores in April 2010, arresting more than 250 people connected to the case.

Stores in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Taupo, Hastings, Upper Hutt, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin were included in the indictment.

It followed an undercover operation targeting the stores, which sold hydroponic growing equipment, fertilisers made for cannabis with names like "Budzilla", and marijuana pipes.

Posing as entrepreneurs, undercover police officers bought equipment from the stores and expressed interest in setting up a similar store using supplies from Quinlan's companies, the trial heard.

Quinlan and Bennett were found guilty of 16 representative charges of supplying equipment or material capable of being used for the cultivation of cannabis at their stores throughout the country.



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I just came across this on the net, from way back in march. Ive read that supposedly some of the staff of the chain stores where offering 'seeds' and the 'real thing' to undercover police, but even this wouldn't put the director and owner in jail. I would be interested in other peoples thoughts on this because as nibbler stated, the implications must be grand...

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How is selling medium for growing any type of plant apart from pot illegal? In fact any of things they sell can be used for any type of growing. I must admit i feel a bit perplexed when i see nutes with pot imagery on the labels, thats just asking for it. But everything else is legal.


Bunnings is just as responsible for supplying materials to grow and cultivate pot as these guys,,except for the budzilla branded stuff i guess.


I am with the owner being more than just a hydro supplier in more ways than one, but arresting and charging 250 staff. wow kiwis huh.

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yeah i do wonder what they could have possibly got them for. most likely a 'behind close doors' agreement to take the 4 yrs and carry on the business.  i read that the crown were trying to seize the company too...


in fact just the way all the media reports were written, stating that 'the way the shops were fitted out' lead prosecutors the believe that it was all for one thing,... growing weed... this fuckin scares me,... i know its nz but  eventually, when i walk into a store to buy my 'medium' will that instantly make me a suspect? is this where the laws are leading?

Edited by bud whore
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