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A French man on a working holiday, caught in central Queenstown with nearly $50,000 worth of cannabis, was travelling in a "mobile shop" for the drug, a judge says.
Paul Aubin (23) and co-accused Ruben Aboujdid had bought the drugs in Motueka before driving to the resort.
About 11pm on April 27, they aroused the suspicion of a member of the public, who called police about the strong smell of cannabis coming from their vehicle.
Three hours later, they were stopped in the town centre by police, who could also smell the drug through an open window.
A search uncovered 2.43kg of cannabis packaged in various quantities in ziplock bags and plastic tubs.
Also in the vehicle was $950 in cash, three grinders, scales, a bong, pipe and cleaning equipment.
Aubin was sentenced by Judge John Brandts-Giesen in the Queenstown District Court yesterday on a charge of possession of cannabis for supply and possession of a cannabis bong, both on April 28.
He has given evidence against Aboujdid, whose partly-heard trial is set to resume in February.
His counsel, Liam Collins, said although the men were caught with a "significant" amount of cannabis, they were running "one of the most laughably unsophisticated cannabis operations ever".
They had made no attempt to cover their tracks, such as using code in digital communications.
"He’s not a gang member kingpin running an empire.
"It was very naive, stupid, unsophisticated offending."
Aubin had been dependent on cannabis since he was 17, Mr Collins said.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said although the defendant’s offending may have been unsophisticated in some respects, the cannabis had an estimated commercial value of $48,000.
"This was a commercial operation that goes far beyond a couple of backpackers subsidising their own cannabis use."
After reaching an end sentence of 17 months’ prison, Judge Brandt-Giesen converted that to seven months’ home detention at a Queenstown property.
Aubin is banned from consuming alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, and must undergo counselling to address his drug issues.
He must also perform 250 hours of community work.