Progressive states in the US have inspired a new cannabis collective which has the potential to protect UK domestic weed growers from prosecution.
Currently in the UK, the growing of marijuana has to be a highly covert procedure as it can result in anything from community service to a decade in prison, Vice reports.
The United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC) has launched a new system that could protect you in a court battle if your grow, of nine or fewer plants, was busted by police.
Greg de Hoedt, the President of the UKCSC, spoke to Vice about how he got the idea for this comprehensive anonymous database after seeing similar systems in California and Colorado where cannabis is legal.
The inspiration initially came from an area in California called Mendocino, when the area was doing badly economically, the police force risked having major cuts. As the area was already known to be full of weed growers, they decided to drastically slow down on raiding weed farms—instead, they offered growers tags and flags for $8,000 that would make them immune from being a police target. The only condition was that there were no more than 99 plants being grown.
The sheriff who headed up the idea was praised for his innovation by most, and a bridge was built between cannabis growers and the police for the first time ever. I’d love to achieve this bridge in the UK.
In the eyes of UK law, there are four categories of marijuana growing. Category 1 is the highest level which produces enough for commercial distribution. Category four means that the grower has nine or fewer plants which is considered a ‘domestic operation’.
The UKCSC aims to create a sort of community or union for growers to become a part, selling branded tags with unique serial numbers and a poster, certifying the operation as one without criminal intention.
According to their website, you would belong to a ‘separate and legally distinct group of consenting adults that wish to avoid engaging with the black-market by the communal growing and sharing of cannabis’.
James, who grows weed for medical use and was previously raided by the police, said to Vice:
This scheme allows us to show that we are not commercial growers if we do get another knock at the door. And it shows the authorities that whilst cultivation is illegal at the moment, we are trying to do it in as professional a manner as possible and be responsible.
I’d like to think the police would look at the tags and be able to clearly see that the plants are not intended for sale on the street and that they are for helping people to have a decent quality of life.
I’ve had bad joint and muscle pain for about five years, and I’ve used cannabis concentrates to help with pain relief. After years of different tests, I just found out this week that it’s fibromyalgia. This is why I grow cannabis; even though I have been raided before, it is the only way I can guarantee consistent quality meds.
As for whether the theoretical collective will actually protect anyone is yet to be seen as no one using the tagging system has been raided.
It seems like having an understanding and better communication between the police and a non-criminal collective like this could be mutually beneficial.
Another grower under the UKCSC scheme, Trev, said to Vice:
Sooner or later we’ll hit a tipping point where the police have to work far more effectively with us, rather than against us. The same will happen vice versa, which all goes towards community relations and cracking down on crime gangs. The tags show the police that I’m part of something bigger than myself. It shows them that I’m part of a culture that would far sooner work with them for change.
On top of all this, the police really do have bigger fish to fry than a domestic grow of nine plants. The head of the National Police Chiefs Council already said that cracking down on weed has ‘never been a top priority’.
In the US, the money raised by the collectives was added to the community’s tax budget which benefitted them economically as well as taking away growers’ anxiety about being raided.
The UKCSC aims to preserve people’s right to be able to grow and supply their own medicine which only affects themselves without being dealt with as if they are criminal dealers.