Monday, April 14, 2003
By Health Newswire reporters
The police should be lenient towards cannabis users who grow their own supply and avoid contact with drug dealers, according to a UK report.
The research, carried out at South Bank University and the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London, reveals that half of all the cannabis consumed in the UK is grown at home. Although some home-grown cannabis is sold commercially, most is grown for personal use or use by friends.
There are widespread discrepancies in the way that the police and the courts apply the laws against cultivation. Some forces charge growers with “production”, which carries a mandatory seven-year prison sentence for a third conviction, while others use the lesser offence of “cultivation”.
In 2000, 458 offenders were cautioned for cannabis cultivation, while another 1,502 were convicted in court, including 243 who were sent to prison.
The report states that a decision to change the law so small-scale cultivation of cannabis is treated in a similar way to “possession” would not contravene the UN drug conventions. It would bring the UK law into line with many other developed nations where enforcement policy deliberately seeks to draw cannabis users away from criminal suppliers who may also try to sell them more harmful drugs.
Professor Mike Hough from South Bank University says that because large minorities of young people use cannabis, it is essential to insulate them as much as possible from drug markets operated by dealers who also sell crack and heroin.
“If small-scale home cultivation attracted an on-the-spot warning rather than a caution or a court conviction, it is likely that more users would switch to growing their own and stop buying from dealers. As their profits from cannabis sales diminished, criminal entrepreneurs could be forced to abandon the cannabis market altogether,” he says.
The report found that the home-grown market is supported by a thriving,
legal trade in cannabis seeds and horticultural equipment. It also discovered
that there are different types of cannabis cultivators, including “medical
growers”, who use the drug to relieve the symptoms of long-term conditions
such as multiple sclerosis.
© HMG Worldwide 2003