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Court of Appeal ruling: indoor cannabis cultivation

March 01 2011

Forensic Science Interpreting The Evidence

A recent ruling from the Court of Appeal has put new light on indoor cannabis cultivation - how will this affect your case?

In previous cases, much of our work addressed what was considered over-estimation (by the prosecution) of potential yields from cannabis crops to give the impression that cultivation may be for supply rather than personal use.  One Prosecution laboratory had been using an estimate of 57g per plant, whereas another was using 40g per plant.  We have been successful in a number of cases in addressing the balance of this to look at what may or may not be realistically achievable.  Immature or poorly cultivated plants, for instance, would not be expected to yield as much of the active drug as fully grown plants.

The recent case of R –v- Auton (www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2011/76.html) made some significant recommendations, including: 

  • the need for a custodial sentence even if cultivation is for personal use
  • yield estimates should be in the range of 28g to 40g
  • elements of the case such as scale, investment in equipment or whether or not the cultivation is commercial should be assessed as guidance for sentencing.

Issues such as whether the plants are seed grown or cutting grown (which dramatically affects yield), the health of the plants and whether leaves are being kept or discarded still need to be considered.  Furthermore, outdoor cultivation arguably falls outside the scope of the ruling.

Our experts can advise on all of these, as well as potential value.  To discuss your case further, please contact Dr David Schudel at our Durham office on 0191 332 4999.

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