"They came in, took everything, roughly 20 plants, left some paperwork saying how fucked I am, left," says Danny, an English 50-something non-medicinal grower. "But I was never charged. Nobody showed up after they raided."
Arrests for growing cannabis have fallen by more than half since 2012, a VICE investigation can reveal.
"We live in a society where we lock disabled people up for medicating with a plant," she says, explaining how she was held in a police cell until the early hours of the morning. "They come and take it away from you, it’s just not right. No pharmaceutical medical has been at all useful, steroids just make you fat and hairy. I just want to be able to take the herbal remedies I've been taking for last 30 years."
Lezley Gibson, who has multiple sclerosis – which causes pain and spasms that she says only cannabis can relieve – told me that police raided her home in Carlisle in January and seized nine plants and three large bars of cannabis-infused chocolate. Her and her husband, Mark, are veteran cannabis campaigners who went to court in 2006 for supplying patients with cannabis chocolate at cost price. They say they no longer provide others with cannabis.
The Legal Weed No One's Talking About
On the police's approach to enforcing cannabis laws, he says: "I don't think they really care, do they? Police don't seem to have time for cannabis. You can't book everyone," adding: "I'd hurry up [and legalise cannabis] if I were them. Brexit is coming, and cannabis can boost the economy."
Mick Hodgkins, who grew cannabis to use as relief for his intestinal condition, diverticulitis, as well as his wife's sudden mood swings and extreme joint pain, told me he received a visit from the police, who said they had been told cannabis was being grown on his premises in east Sussex in May last year. "I admitted it was, and I was cautioned," he says. "I informed the officers that I had four cannabis plants growing in my loft, but they were for medicinal purposes and very low in THC and high in CBD."
Mick was un-arrested and eventually only received a police caution, but says he suffered a great amount of stress over fears he could lose his job since, he's required to pass a criminal record bureau check, which can flag up offences as small as cannabis cautions. He and his wife now source cannabis oil from other patients, who make it for £30 a bottle.
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A number of police forces have effectively declared they are no longer interested in pursuing low-level cannabis users and growers, with the PCCs from Avon and Somerset, Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, North Wales and the West Midlands saying they do not believe criminalisation is necessary.
A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Police are committed to tackling the criminals at the source of cannabis cultivation and the organised crime and violence associated with it.
We will continue to enforce the law in a practical and proportionate way using a wide variety of powers at our disposal to tackle criminal activity involving cannabis."
Many then employ illegal immigrants to ‘farm’ the thousands of plants they grow in every room, often after they have hacked the electricity supply at the mains – so they don’t even end up paying for the heat and light.
Do your neighbours have the curtains drawn all day long? It might make it look like the house is unoccupied, but having windows blocked up with panelling or sheeting would suggest there’s something they don’t want you to see. This could be a sign that there are many budding plants inside soaking up bright artificial light.
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