60 plants and free! Cannabis cultivating patient spared prison gets fine

cannabis cultivation monmouth

In Cinderford, a man named Jonathan McLean, 30, from Wyesham, Monmouth, avoided jail time despite being found to have bypassed the electrical supply at an industrial unit to grow cannabis. The police raid at the unit on Speculation Road revealed two cannabis farms containing a total of 60 plants, which could have yielded between £16,800 and £50,400 on the street. McLean claimed he used the cannabis to alleviate pain from a childhood head injury.

Prosecutor Charlotte Evans detailed that police forced entry into the unit on March 31, discovering the farms along with bags of discarded cannabis stalks. An engineer from Western Power was called to the site due to the bypassed meter. McLean, who surrendered to the police the same morning, admitted to diverting electricity after learning how to do so online. However, no evidence of drug dealing was found on his seized phone.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC raised questions about why the case was heard in Crown Court instead of magistrates court, suspecting a miscategorisation of the case. Defence attorney Rhianna Fricker explained McLean’s medical history, including a severe head injury at age eight, leading to his use of cannabis as an adult. Recently, McLean had begun legally seeking medical-grade marijuana and intended to extract Cannabidiol Oil (CBD) from the plants for his condition.

McLean admitted to producing cannabis between February 28 and March 31. Judge Lawrie noted that the case should have been handled sooner in the magistrates court but acknowledged the context of McLean’s actions saying, “I understand the context in which this offence was committed and were growing the plants in order to make cannabis oil, but in doing this you did break the law and you need to be punished.

“I am pleased you are taking a more legitimate approach to this problem and I wish you well with this.”

McLean was fined £500, with additional court costs of £450 and a £200 surcharge​. 

Our thoughts

Sadly the judge is right, the law was broken – but why does this mean he needs to be punished? Why does it not mean the law is, in this instance, wrong and as a result failing Jonathan McLean? The judge has looked favourably upon this because he has taken the steps to get a legal prescription. The stress of being taken to court for your medicine is one thing, but the idea that you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years for taking care of your self is quite despicable. 

What does £50,400 worth of cannabis equate to, you might ask? Let’s take the top crop value and divide it by 60 plants, we get a value of £833 per plant. The average wholesale cannabis price is around £150 an ounce. So using that figure to divide our plant value gives us 5.55 ounces per plant or 154 grams. With a total of 60 plants, if everything was running smoothly, this could have yielded 9.24 kilos. When extracted into cannabis oil which we estimate an average of 15% return, it leaves 1,848 grams of cannabis oil. 

Looking at the online medical cannabis resource, we can clearly see the cost of 600mg of THC in a 30ml tincture bottle costs £80 each.  1,848 grams of oil could make around 3,080 bottles at a fraction of the cost. As reported, stems were found at the scene of the grow so it is an indication he has been growing for a while – so it was obviously working for him and didn’t pose a danger. 

The real harm has come in the form of a criminal record and being punished for taking his health into his own hands. So, how much would it cost to buy 3,080 bottles of 600mg cannabis oil? An astounding £246,400! Tell me again why they don’t want patients growing their own.

When it comes to growing your own cannabis, it’s already enough that you are breaking that law. Adding other offences such as stealing electricity will complicate your case and could be the thing that gets you the biggest punishment. Thankfully, Jonathan was spared prison and remains free, although a little lighter in the pocket and limited to products far more expensive than his own self-sustainable solution provided him. 

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