CANNABIS CULTIVATION AND THE LAW

WHAT IS IT?

Cannabis cultivation is perhaps the most common type of ‘drug production’ charge dealt with by the courts.  Offences range from very small scale operations whereby a cannabis user has grown plants for their own personal use to large scale operations where industrial equipment and large premises are used and people are employed to tend to the crop.

Drugs offences are prosecuted under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  The ready availability of the equipment needed to produce cannabis and easy access to instruction manuals on the internet has resulted in this type of offence becoming more and more common.  Cannabis and cannabis resin are classified as Class B drugs.

WHAT DO THE PROSECUTION HAVE TO PROVE?

The prosecution require to prove:-

  1. That a controlled drug was produced
  2. That the accused was linked to the production process, e.g. by providing equipment, premises or ‘gardening.’
  3.  That the accused knew that a drug was being produced and it was a controlled drug.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON DEFENCES?

The most common defences encountered by the court are:-

  • the accused had no knowledge or involvement in the production
  • the accused did not know that a drug was being produced
  • the accused did not know that the drug being produced was a controlled drug
  • the items recovered were not a controlled drug
  • the person cultivating the cannabis had lawful authority to carry out this activity
  • the accused was coerced or forced into carrying out the activity
  • another person was carrying out the activity
  • The case against the accused has not been started in good time

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES?

The penalties to be imposed in relation to misuse of drugs offences can be found in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  An accused person can be charged with a number of offences arising from cannabis cultivation or production.  The sentence to be imposed depends on whether the accused is prosecuted under summary (A Sheriff sitting alone) or solemn procedure (A Judge or Sheriff sitting with a jury.)

The maximum sentence for production of a class B drug on indictment is 14 years imprisonment or a fine or both.  The maximum sentence for production of a class B drug on summary complaint is 6 months imprisonment or a fine or both.

The maximum sentence for supply of a class B drug on indictment is 14 years imprisonment or a fine or both.  The maximum sentence for supply of a class B drug on summary complaint is 6 months imprisonment or a fine or both.

​The maximum sentence for possession of a class B drug on indictment is 5 years imprisonment or a fine or both.  The maximum sentence for possession of a class B drug on summary complaint is 3 months imprisonment or a fine (maximum £2,500) or both.

​The maximum sentence for cultivation of cannabis plants on indictment is 14 years imprisonment or a fine or both.  The maximum sentence for cultivation of cannabis plants on summary complaint is 6 months imprisonment or a fine or both.

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