Andrew Katelaris, 63, is on trial in the NSW District Court in Sydney for allegedly manufacturing and supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and dealing with proceeds of crime.
Andrew Katelaris, 63, is on trial in the NSW District Court in Sydney for allegedly manufacturing and supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and dealing with proceeds of crime. Glen Stubbe

The 'billion-dollar' plant crop revealed in court

By SAM McKEITH

THE trial of a deregistered medical practitioner facing serious drug-related offences has been shown a video chronicling the "story of hemp". 

Andrew John Katelaris, 63, is on trial in the NSW District Court in Sydney for allegedly manufacturing and supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and dealing with proceeds of crime. 

Mr Katelaris was struck off as a medical practitioner in the mid-2000s.

He is representing himself at trial, and has based his defence on the "basis of medical necessity". 

On Monday, the jury watched a television documentary from the mid-1990s that featured Mr Katelaris.

The film described marijuana as a potential "billion-dollar crop". 

The documentary detailed the "story of hemp's renaissance" and described the former doctor as on a "part-time crusade". 

It showed Mr Katelaris in a laboratory; on a plane surveying NSW; and meeting with cotton farmers and fashion designers about the potential industrial uses of hemp. 

The video claimed hemp had "huge industrial potential" in papermaking, plastics, building and textiles. 

"It's an extremely useful plant," Mr Katelaris says in the video. 

An unnamed narrator then said marijuana - or hemp -- was "demonised" despite it being an "ideal crop" that could rejuvenate rural Australia. 

The documentary also referred to Harvard University research, claiming that in one study of 1000 cancer specialists, half of those polled wanted cannabis to be available and would prescribe it. 

Cannabis could be used to treat conditions including glaucoma, epilepsy, asthma, insomnia, muscle spasms and eating disorders, it was also suggested in the video. 

The trial has heard that a police raid of an alleged lab operated by Mr Katelaris uncovered 8kg of cannabis oil and 10kg of cannabis leaf in addition to $10,000 cash. 

Mr Katelaris has previously told the court that the lives of people with "intractable epilepsy" have been transformed after treatment with medical cannabis. 

The trial continues before Judge Clive Jeffreys.