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We have examined
over 100 cultivation systems in the course of criminal
trials. Possession of cannabis seeds is not illegal, but
any active steps taken to cultivate plants is an offence
under sections 4 (production) or 6 (cultivation) of the
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This would include watering,
pruning, or even stripping usable material from harvested
plants. Maximum penalties are the same as for dealing,
i.e. up to 14 years imprisonment on indictment. The actual
penalties will depend on the circumstances (determining
whether "intent to supply" charges are brought),
including the estimated yield, the "sophistication"
of the system, and the potency of the plants. In practice,
growing more than 2-3 plants can result in charges of
"intent", certainly cultivation of sufficient
plants to maintain self-sufficiency for a moderately heavy
user over a growth cycle will almost certainly result
in an "intent" charge, if not conviction. Penalties
range from discharges to long terms of imprisonment, a
first offence may attract a large fine, community service
order, or short prison sentence. Second or subsequent
offences, or where there is evidence of "commercial
supply" (as opposed to "social supply",
involving passing a joint, sharing cannabis or giving
free to friends) will almost certainly attract a prison
term. The chances of conviction increase substantially
if police seize evidence they associate with supply, such
as scales, cash, packaging materials (such as plastic
food bags or clingfilm), or so-called "dealer lists".
Our surveys show users who have grown cannabis are
three times as likely to be "busted" each year
than those who have not.
publish fairly accurate advice on the law and police
practice on their website.
is clearly a high risk activity, and few growers realise
how seriously such offences are treated by the police
and courts. Please warn your readers.
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