The number of cannabis plants that will be considered for personal use by UK courts is to be reduced from nine to just seven.
This means that if you get caught growing more than seven plants, rather than being considered for personal use and getting you a caution, community order or a suspended sentence, you could theoretically face a more severe penalty.
Of course, other factors will also determine how you are dealt with, such as evidence of profiting or dealing.
The change to UK drug sentencing guidelines will come into force on April Fool’s Day (1st April) 2021.
As well as the limit for what is considered a category 4 harm reducing from nine to seven plants, what is considered a category 3 harm is being reduced from 28 to 20 plants.
Categories of harm – 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest) – are set by the Sentencing Council based on “output or potential output… determined by the weight of the product or number of plants/scale of operation.”
The Sentencing Council state that they “assume a yield of 55g per plant,” which is, of course, pretty low.
The change in sentencing guidelines may be a response to improved genetics and growing techniques that produce larger yields in modern cannabis plants.
Cannabis is a Class B drug in the UK, with possession carrying a maximum sentence of op to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both, and supply/production carrying a maximum sentence of Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Cannabis was legalised in the UK for medicinal use two years ago. Despite this, prescriptions from the NHS have been hard to come by. Private prescriptions, meanwhile, are more readily available.
The price of fulfilling these medical cannabis prescriptions has dropped to near street prices, although variety and quality are still lacking generally.
More recently, in September 2020, two new cannabis cards were announced that have been designed to help medical consumers avoid arrest by the police.
While they offer no legal protection, the cards urge police officers to use their discretion when dealing with cannabis patients who produce them.
Cancard – which was designed by medical cannabis patient Carly Barton in collaboration with senior police, MPs, doctors, researchers and a supporting legal team – is available to patients wh fit a number of criteria including having a diagnosis (confirmed by their GP) that is currently being prescribed for privately and being unable to afford a private prescription.
MedCannID has pretty much the same intentions but is for patients who have already been prescribed medical cannabis.
Medicancard, meanwhile, is designed to provide vital information and one-to-one legal advice for every UK cannabis user/grower to avoid prosecution and charges. It has been designed by Outlaw and basically advises the police and Crown Prosecution Service that your intent was to supply yourself with medical cannabis.
For more information on UK cannabis law, see this article from UK Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC).