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Sentencing For Commercial Cultivation Of Cannabis

Rocky Balboa

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Persons convicted of being concerned in the large scale commercial cultivation or production of cannabis, could expect to receive sentences with a starting point of three years if they acted as a gardener, six to seven years if they acted as an organiser, three to seven years if they acted as a manager and higher sentences where they controlled a large number of such operations.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division ( Lord Justice Latham, Mr Justice Jack and Mr Justice Cranston ) so held on December 21, 2007, when disposing of sentence appeals by seven appellants convicted at various crown courts of being concerned in the cultivation of cannabis.

LORD JUSTICE LATHAM, giving the judgment of the court, said that in all cases, cultivation took place hydroponically and under artificial light requiring a high consumption of abstracted electricity. The cannabis crop was mostly of the highest quality, producing "skunk", which was particularly strong, grown in private houses or industrial premises appropriately converted, and extensively equipped with propagating and growing apparatus.

The gardeners who tended the crops usually had little to do with setting up the operation. They were often illegal immigrants exploited because of the vulnerability.

Such operations were extremely profitable, as the value of crops could substantially exceed UKP100,000 a year, while costs were minimal, as the electricity was usually unlawfully abstracted, and the labour costs minimal. The fact that they were so remunerative required the court to consider deterrent sentences.

Source: Times, The
Author: Regina v Xu and Others
Copyright: 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd
Website: News and Views from The Times and Sunday Times | Times Online
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