Legalising cannabis sales without giving people the right to grow is a mistake.

The right to grow cannabis at home is a fundamental part of a successful cannabis policy.

UK patients are forced to buy medical cannabis.

People who continue to grow their own still live under a prohibition at risk of arrest, only benefitting legal businesses at the expense of the taxpayer.

Here you will learn the law on home growing in the UK. It’s important you know the law as it is today if you are thinking of growing your own any time soon or in the future. We also have a look at how the UKCSC would like to see cannabis cultivation legislated in different settings.

Why are the UKCSC campaigning for the right to grow cannabis at home?

Cannabis cultivation is a personal hobby that many people derive great joy from in the privacy of their homes. It’s a fascinating subject with much to learn across many areas of science and horticulture, but it’s also a creative outlet and a spiritual connection for others. It helps people connect with nature, learn how to care for something, and brings a sense of fulfilment when you finally harvest your efforts.

If the government decides to allow adults to buy cannabis, but it remains illegal to grow at home, we would still consider it a prohibition and our work would still not be over.

Adults who like to use cannabis should have the right to grow, not just buy it. Forcing people to pay for something they could make at home is nothing short of a for-profit policy. Ending prohibition should be about creating a more fair and just society. Growing at home falls into that category.

What does the law say about growing cannabis in the UK?

It is illegal to grow cannabis in the UK unless you have a Home Office granted licence.

Anyone can apply for a cannabis cultivation licence, it costs money and there is a strict criterion you must meet in order to be approved. If you do not have a Home Office Schedule 2 drug licence, growing your own cannabis is prohibited as a criminal act under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and is punishable with a custodial sentence of up to 14 years and unlimited fine.

What is the punishment if you get caught growing cannabis in the UK?

The punishment varies depending on your level of involvement, the size of the growth, your motivation and how much you were profiting from the operation.

The minimum punishment you can be given is a discharge, which means the judge recognises you have broken the law but does not think there is a suitable punishment. You will still have the mark of a criminal record. An absolute discharge will be automatically spent and not affect your good standing, but a conditional discharge may mean if you breach conditions set by the judge you will receive another harsher sentence.

The next lowest punishment is a fine or community order.

A suspended sentence is when you have been found guilty, but the judge does not think the custodial sentence is necessary unless you are caught committing the same or another crime during a set probationary period. 

You may get a custodial sentence, the minimum is 1 year, but it is unlikely you will serve a whole year. The maximum you can be given is 14 years, this is reserved for the most serious of offenders with the highest plant numbers, playing a leading role and making large proceeds from crime.

There are 4 categories to determine your role in the offence.

Culpability demonstrated by the offender’s roleOne or more of these characteristics may demonstrate the offender’s role. These lists are not exhaustive.
Leading role:
Directing or organising production/cultivation on a commercial scale
Substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain
Close links to original source
Expectation of substantial financial or other advantage
Uses business as cover
Abuses a position of trust or responsibility
Significant role:Operational or management function within a chain
Involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward
Expectation of significant financial or other advantage (save where this advantage is limited to meeting the offender’s own habit), whether or not operating alone
Some awareness and understanding of scale of operation
Lesser role:Performs a limited function under direction
Engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation, grooming and/ or control
Involvement through naivety, immaturity or exploitation
No influence on those above in a chain
Very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation
If own operation, solely for own use (considering reasonableness of account in all the circumstances)
Expectation of limited, if any, financial advantage, (including meeting the offender’s own habit)

There are 4 categories to determine the scale of the operation.

HarmIn assessing harm, output or potential output are determined by the weight of the product or number of plants/scale of operation.
Category 1Heroin, cocaine – 1kg
Ecstasy – 1,300 tablets*
MDMA – 1kg
LSD – 25,000 squares
Amphetamine – 4kg
Cannabis – operation capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use
Ketamine – 1kg
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’) – large quantity indicative of a commercial operation
Category 2Heroin, cocaine – 1kg
Ecstasy – 1,300 tablets*
MDMA – 1kg
LSD – 25,000 squares
Amphetamine – 4kg
Cannabis – operation capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use
Ketamine – 1kg
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’) – large quantity indicative of a commercial operation
Category 3Heroin, cocaine – 150g
Ecstasy – 200 tablets (see note below)
MDMA – 150g
LSD – 2,500 squares
Amphetamine – 750g
Cannabis – 20 plants**
Ketamine – 150g
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’) – smaller quantity between categories 2 and 4
Category 4Heroin, cocaine – 5g
Ecstasy – 13 tablets*
MDMA – 5g
LSD – 170 squares
Amphetamine – 20g
Cannabis – 7 plants**
Ketamine – 5g
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’) – very small quantity

*Ecstasy tablet quantities based on a typical quantity of 150mg MDMA per tablet with an assumed yield of 55g per plant.

These factors will indicate to the judge what sentence bracketing you are given. They will use the facts of the case presented by your legal team to determine what they believe to be an appropriate sentence.

Category 1Starting pointStarting pointStarting point
8 years’ custody5 years 6 months’ custody3 years’ custody
Category rangeCategory rangeCategory range
7 – 10 years’ custody5 – 7 years’ custody2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category 2Starting pointStarting pointStarting point
6 years’ custody4 years’ custody1 year’s custody
Category rangeCategory rangeCategory range
4 years 6 months’ – 8 years’ custody2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody26 weeks’ – 3 years’ custody
Category 3Starting pointStarting pointStarting point
4 years’ custody1 year’s custodyHigh level community order
Category rangeCategory rangeCategory range
2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody26 weeks’ – 3 years’ custodyLow level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Category 4Starting pointStarting pointStarting point
18 months’ custodyHigh level community orderLow level community order
Category rangeCategory rangeCategory range
26 weeks’ – 3 years’ custodyMedium level community order – 26 weeks’ custodyBand B fine – Medium level community order

What about sharing and selling excess cannabis to friends or a cannabis social club?

If people want to grow and sell cannabis to a cannabis social club, they should have the option to. Third party testing labs can analyse cultivators products to ensure they pass consumer safety standard checks before it can be sold to any consumers.

Anyone who grows cannabis should be able to share it with another adult without interference from the government.

Unlicensed home cultivation explained

People should be able to grow at home, without much interference from the state, if any at all. When was the last time the government asked you if they could come and inspect your home beer brewing set up? Exactly.

Home cultivation typically takes place in a tent, spare room, loft, garage, shed, greenhouse or garden. Lights, extraction fans, air movement fans and temperature/humidity are necessary environmental controls. The space taken up depends on the size of the harvest desired. People growing for edibles, extracts and multiple family members or friends will usually take up more space. There is no limit on how much beer or wine you can brew at home, just conditions on how and who you can use it with.

Plant limits are arbitrary due to each gardener’s style of growing but space size limitations are probably more pragmatic if any limitation should be imposed.

Growing your own crops of any kind gives you control over the quality over what you put into it, and as a result into your own body. Home growers also have the choice over what strains they grow and may even take part in breeding their own varieties.

Patients with diagnosed medical conditions grow their own or have others grow for them to make cannabis affordable in the quantities that they need.

The government should leave people who cultivate, alone in peace. It’s that simple.

Licenced cannabis social club cultivation explained

Cannabis social clubs and craft scale cultivators should be able to grow enough product to meet the needs of their membership in a licensed cannabis cultivation facility. These would be limited to produce the cannabis they need, plus an allowed surplus percentage to cover failed crops and product transfer between other licenced clubs.

Craft cannabis producers can be licensed to grow and process cannabis products and sell directly to cannabis social clubs, who mandate members be 18+ with age ID checks at the point of sale and when registering as a member.

Licences should be granted by the Local Council Licencing Authority so that money generated from cannabis business goes back into the local economy and used as local council authorities see fit. At this level, it allows residents to have a direct influence on how town profits are spent, as per The Localism Act 2010.

Should there be a cannabis TAX?

Taxing cannabis has been a huge conversation internationally where efforts to legalise cannabis for adult use have been successful now allowing 3,032.88 million people to access it in some way or another.

The UK illicit cannabis economy is worth £2.6 billion a year so taxing cannabis sales would benefit the economy to help pay for vital public services we all use, but it has to be done sensibly.

In the UK patients do not pay VAT on medical cannabis products.

In Canada, the tax is considerably high, and industry analysts have postulated that it has stifled the market. California also imposes multiple cannabis taxes, leaving products higher than average (almost double) and creating a market that the illicit market is able to undercut considerably.

In Thailand, cannabis sales are taxed at the normal sales tax rate.

Find out more about the laws on cannabis, along with our most frequently asked questions about what happens if you ever get arrested for any cannabis related activities.