A wheelchair-bound drug dealer set up a giant cannabis factory in his home and claimed it was all for his own use.

But Joseph Dymond was spared prison for growing and possessing the class C drug - and immediately called for the cannabis laws to be further relaxed.

Dymond, who was paralysed in a car accident aged 17, told Hove Crown Court yesterday he smoked between one and a half and two ounces of the drug a week to relieve pain and muscle spasms.

The 36-year-old described the factory at his home as a hobby that grew out of control.

When police raided his house in Priory Road, Hastings, in January they found 43 plants and 43 cuttings, as well as specialist lamps and equipment used to grow cannabis.

DS Anthony Pike, of Sussex Police's Serious Organised Crime unit, told the court the plants would yield up to 8,816 grammes, or 311 ounces, of cannabis when fully grown.

He estimated the street value of the cannabis at between £5 and £10 for a sixteenth of an ounce.

The court heard the total value of the cannabis when harvested would be between £24,000 and £49,000.

Dymond, who had four previous convictions for possessing and supplying cannabis, told the court the amount he expected to successfully harvest was much lower.

When police searched his flat on January 4 they found 61 grammes of resin, 68 grammes of skunk and 78 grammes of herbal cannabis in addition to the plants.

They also seized £1,000 in cash which Dymond claimed he was saving to pay bills, hydroponic lamps, bags of seeds, timer switches and a watering system.

When he was arrested he said: "I'm not a criminal, I only grow and smoke my own weed."

But he denied growing the cannabis to sell to others.

Judge Richard Hayward handed Dymond a three-month jail sentence suspended for a year but left him with a warning.

He said: "You are an engaging chap and the court feels sympathy for you.

"You can't push the system indefinitely.

"If you continue to grow and supply cannabis to others the courts will say, 'Enough is enough'."

Dymond admitted possession of cannabis resin and being concerned in the production of herbal cannabis at an earlier hearing.

He told the court he used the resin to make fairy cakes because he had the early symptoms of emphysema and wanted to avoid smoking.

He said his prescribed pain relief medication had a "zombifying" effect, and he preferred to use cannabis.

He said: "The medication is useless, people come round and you can't even open the door, let alone talk to them."

The court heard he had gradually developed a 12-joint a day habit as his tolerance of the drug grew.

Judge Hayward said: "That's the trouble, isn't it? You need more and more."

Dymond said cannabis cultivation had become a hobby.

He said: "I have gone through a few methods finding out what works for me.

"It evolved over two years. Being housebound, I got into it too much."

He described how his electricity bill reached £400 a quarter to power the hydroponic lamps needed to produce the cannabis.

He used coconut husks to bed the plants, and bought expensive "guano", or bat droppings, to use as fertiliser.

Judge Hayward said: "If you're only using one or two ounces a week you might as well buy it. The cannabis you're smoking must be the most expensive in the world."

Dymond was shown a notebook containing lists of names and figures which the prosecution claimed were records of drug deals.

He maintained he did not know what they meant, but suggested they may have been scores taken down in games of cards.

The notebook contained the names of websites such as www.amsterdam.com and lists of seed names such as Sharp Shock and Original Misty.

Judge Hayward paused on one page and commented: "Interesting doodle, that's probably after you have had some cannabis."

Sentencing Dymond, he said the amount of effort and expense and the number of plants found at the flat meant he did not believe growing cannabis was simply a hobby.

He said: "I'm satisfied Mr Dymond was supplying others with cannabis.

"I hope he has not been used by others to do their bidding.

"He's cocking a snook at the system, but he can't go on doing it."

After the hearing, Dymond said he would go on using cannabis rather than his prescribed medication.

He advocated Amsterdam-style legal tolerance of the drug.

He said: "Cannabis is 5,000 years old. If it popped up now it would be considered a miracle drug.

"We've got a system that is breaking down. The prisons are full up and they're trying to put potheads in prison. They let a paedophile out and put a pothead in."