Growing Weed UK Guide - Is it Legal in 2023?
Although the UK climate might seem like a completely unsuitable environment for growing cannabis, the truth is that cannabis has been grown in the UK for around 1000 years.
That said, the biggest obstacle for growing cannabis indoors or outside in the UK is the law. This article aims to explain the laws regarding growing weed in the UK and what you can do to grow your weed safely.
Growing weed indoors in the UK
When it comes to cultivating weed in the UK, most growers will opt for growing in an indoor environment. With the right home grow setup, you can create the perfect environment for raising a wide range of marijuana strains. For an indoors crop you need the following equipment:
- A tent, liner, or some other covering that will shield the seeds from natural light.
- A grow light that allows you to adjust brightness and heat.
- An extraction fan to maximize the amount of CO2 the plant receives. Alternatively, use an air conditioning unit with a CO2 generator if you have a sealed grow room.
- A carbon filter to remove any odors the plant emits.
- A container such as a pot or flower bed to grow your plant with a growing medium. Remember that the bigger the container, the healthier the plant.
- Filtered water that is free of any contaminants.
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Growing weed outdoors in the UK
It goes without saying that the climate of much of the UK is not conducive to growing marijuana strains outdoors. The UK climate is known for being cold, and winter in particular can bring harsh weather conditions and only minimal sunlight hours.
Yet, the UK climate has one almost constant weather condition in abundance: rain, which will ensure your plant will have plenty to drink throughout the year. In addition, the mid-year months see long daylight hours that make for an extended photoperiod period.
As such, while the UK climate isn’t the best for growing outdoors, it is still doable. Especially with cannabis seeds for the UK climate.
When it comes to growing weed outdoors, many choose to do so in places where they aren’t likely to be discovered: for example, in hidden areas of the garden, or on balconies.
One method that many growers use to get around being caught out by the law is by growing their plants outdoors in the wild. This is known as guerilla growing, and it is also a great and inexpensive growing method for those with little space at home.
You need a tough strain of cannabis to grow in secluded, rugged wilderness-like hillsides and forests without regular maintenance. Some of the best strains for guerilla growth are Northern Lights Auto, White Widow Fem and Jack Herer Auto.
Take a look at our guide on guerilla growing to find out what method and strains should work best for you.
UK law on growing weed
While many countries are relaxing their laws when it comes to growing cannabis for personal use, in the UK cannabis is classified as a Class B drug, and it is illegal to grow your own without a license at the time of this writing.
This is despite the fact that the UK is one of the biggest exporters of medical cannabis and supplies in the world. It is possible to grow cannabis legally for commercial purposes, however to do so require a license given by the Home Office.
However, since 2016 there has been growing political pressure to legalize cannabis use in the UK, and in 2018 the use of prescribed medical cannabis was legalized in 2018.
Can you grow cannabis in the UK?
The only way to legally grow cannabis in the UK is with a government issued commercial license. The cost of this license is £580, with a further extension costing £326.
Growers must also be able to prove that their plants are purely for commercial purposes and not personal use, plus they need to provide information on the seed used, the THC content and whether it has been approved by the EU.
That said, despite these restrictions, many people can and do grow cannabis for personal use discretely.
Arrest and prosecution is largely at the discretion of the local police force, and growing a small amount of weed plants is unlikely to attract attention if sensible measures are taken.
Is it legal to grow high THC weed in the UK?
While it is possible to grow cannabis legally for commercial purposes, the licence issued by the UK Home Office does not cover plants that are high in THC levels.
Nonetheless, many people do grow high THC strains such as Godfather OG, Bruce Banner and Girl Scout Cookies for personal use.
Is it legal to grow CBD plants in the UK?
While it would make sense that a commercial licence would allow you to grow plants that are higher in medicinal CBD content, the truth is that the licence only permits for the harvesting of plant fibre and seeds, and not the CBD content itself.
As such, many who rely on CBD strains for their medicinal value choose to grow them in secret, with strains such as ACDC, Harlequin and Diesel CBD being very popular choices.
Is it legal to grow hemp in the UK?
The commercial licence granted by the Home Office does allow you to legally grow hemp in the UK for commercial purposes. The licence allows you to grow plants within certain limitations: for example, you cannot grow hemp near a school or publicly accessible area.
In addition, the seed used must be an EU approved strain with less than 0.2% THC content. As such, while growing hemp is legal, the act of openly growing it is stifled by outdated laws.
How many cannabis plants can I grow in the UK for personal use?
How many cannabis plants you can grow for personal use largely depends on how many you believe is a manageable amount. Nine plants are the maximum you can grow in order to be classed as a domestic operation by the local police.
Any more than this and you could be treated as a supplier of contraband, which is a category 4 offense.
However, if you only plan on growing one or two plants and the police become aware of your crop you will most likely only receive a caution, although this is still up to the discretion of the local authorities.
What happens if you get caught growing weed in the UK?
If you are unlucky to be discovered growing cannabis illegally by the local police, the penalty depends on the amount of plants they find.
Less than nine plants are considered a domestic operation and will most likely see you receive a minor penalty such as a fine or a caution.
However, more than nine plants can get you charged as a supplier of contraband, which is a category 4 offense with a penalty of 18 months in custody or community service.
More than 28 plants are considered a category 3 crime, which can net you between one and three years in custody.
A category 2 offense is where the authorities consider you to be running an operation capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use, which carries a penalty of between two and five years in custody.
Finally, if you have enough plants to be considered an operation capable of producing industrial quantities for commercial use and do not have a government approved licence then the penalty is five years in custody.
2021 Political view on growing weed in the UK
Despite the current laws regarding growing weed in the UK, there are some political parties that are in favour of changing the laws to make them more lenient or even outright legalisation.
As of this writing, the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has ruled out relaxing drug laws in the UK and supports the government’s current policy when it comes to cannabis.
However, he has stated that he may be in favour of less severe penalties for what he calls “low-level crime”. In addition, members of the Labour Party such as David Lammy have previously backed full legalisation, so this policy might change in the future.
The current Conservative Party policy aims to maintain the current drug laws and its associated penalties. Nonetheless, in 2018 the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that medical cannabis could be legally prescribed for patients with an “exceptional clinical need”.
This means that doctors can only prescribe it if there are no suitable pharmaceutical alternatives available.
Since then, Conservative MPs Crispin Blunt and Rob Wilson have set up the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, which aims to gauge public opinion with a potential view to future decriminalization and legalisation of cannabis.
Ever since it was founded in 1990, the UK Green Party has pursued a policy of full decriminalization of cannabis. They aim to remove cannabis from the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act and bring the possession, cultivation and trade of cannabis in line with the Dutch model.
They also aim to create a fully regulated trade for the import and export of cannabis.
In 2017 the Liberal Democrats became the first major political party in the UK to support the legalisation of cannabis. They advocate for continued research and access to medical cannabis and supported the government’s move to allow doctors to prescribe it in 2018.
Under the former Liberal Democrats' leader Jo Swinson, the party has developed a policy of replacing the prohibition of cannabis with a regulated and taxed market, with more investment added to addiction and support services.
Scottish National Party
While the Scottish National Party has stated that they are not in favour of full decriminalisation of cannabis, they have come out in favour of medicinal cannabis use.
In 2016 the party passed a resolution at a party conference stating that current drug laws were “not fit for purpose”, and that medicinal cannabis and cannabis-based medicines should be freely available on the NHS.
While this would not fully legalise the possession and cultivation of cannabis, it would be a progressive move towards making it no longer a criminal offence.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is not in favour of changing current drug laws. However, they have previously stated they would use current laws to punish suppliers rather than users.
As such, it is unlikely that this policy will benefit anyone growing weed unless they can prove it is entirely for personal use.
Tips for growing cannabis safely in the UK
Although there is hope that the laws surrounding cannabis growing will change in the near future, many people, including those who use cannabis medicinally and find it difficult to get it prescribed, are forced to break the law in order to grow their own.
Fortunately, there are ways to grow your own cannabis without attracting unwanted attention. The following are some tips on how to grow cannabis safely and discretely for your own use:
- Keep your grow small
- Never tell anyone about your grow
- Use a filter when growing indoors
- Never sell your crop
- Start a guerilla grow
The fewer plants you try to grow at once, the easier you will find it to keep your grow hidden from the authorities and any other unwanted attention. In addition, if you are discovered growing cannabis plants, a small amount is likely to only earn you a minor penalty.
Aim to only grow enough for your personal use, and consider methods such as micro growing to cultivate as much as you can with limited space.
There’s an old saying in the UK from the second world war: careless talk costs lives. Well, telling others about your grow might not cost you your life, but it certainly can cost you when it comes to police raids, fines, public humiliation and the confiscation of your plants.
If you are growing cannabis for personal use, then there is no need to tell anyone else, no matter how much you trust them. Remember, the more people who know about your grow, the more likely you are of being discovered.
Even if you do your best to keep your plants well hidden and out of sight, the one thing that could potentially give your grow away is the pungent odour the plants produce.
Whenever you grow plants indoors, make sure you have a carbon filter in place that is strong enough to remove the smell of your plants so as to avoid attracting the attention of nosey neighbours.
If you intend to use your cannabis for personal use, then you should avoid trying to sell it no matter how lucrative it might seem. Selling cannabis will let others know about your grow and put you at risk from both the law and violent criminals.
In addition, the penalty for possession if you are caught will be much more lenient if you can prove your cannabis plants are only for personal use, while being caught selling will likely bring the full force of the law against you.
Finally, if the risk of growing indoors is too great, you can always try growing your cannabis outdoors with guerilla growing. This works best in locations such as the south of England where there is plenty of natural light.
Make sure you choose a location that is well secluded from the public and is not excessively wet but close enough to a clean and adequate water source.
Dunes, meadows and woodlands are good places to try for a guerilla grow, and with many autoflowering strains available, you can get a good grow in a short period of time without the need for too much maintenance.
Order seeds discretely at Weedseedsexpress to grow weed in the UK
While we wait for the laws surrounding growing cannabis in the UK to change, we have many customers in the UK who rely on our services to grow their own cannabis.
We are the #1 online seed shop with over 100 different strains available. We specialise in discreet, stealthy and fast shipping and delivery anywhere in the UK, so you can guarantee your seeds will arrive safely every time.
We invite you to browse our weed seeds for sale as well as our guides on the best autoflower seeds for the UK.
When you purchase cannabis seeds with us, you can apply discount codes on checkout for a discount on your order. Just look on our discount codes page to find the code you want.
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