Reducing the risks around home cultivated cannabis
Having gained yet more media coverage, cannabis has been a national beacon of controversy. However, the war is all but won with the majority of the UK now supporting the therapeutic utilisation of cannabis and cannabinoids. Despite this social success, the legislative progress has been painful for all involved. Due to frustrations with the delays in legislative adaption and fears of the black market, patients have sought to become independent by growing their own cannabis at home.
One of the many benefits of home cultivation is that it often reduces the financial burden of cannabis consumption on the household, but also enables patients to control the conditions of their own plant growth. This often empowers patients when they have few other options. In the wake of the BBC Horizon’s documentary, Cannabis: Miracle Cure or Dangerous Drug?, there are likely many patients that may still be considering home cultivation.
Before doing so, please read this article.
Chris Tasker is a prominent advocate and consultant within the emerging cannabis space, notably engaged with harm reductions schemes up and down the UK.
While, technically, cannabis could be cultivated like any garden plant or vegetable, home cultivation is not without its risks. Beyond the obvious current illegality of personal cannabis cultivation, there are a number of concerns that we wish to draw your attention to so as to reduce the harms associated with uninformed drug consumption. We’ve spent a great deal of time liaising between the police constabularies and cannabis collectives, where advocates have unfortunately heard many of the realities and potential dangers that face amateur cultivation.
One major issue that police have been observing, and one that is often overlooked by cultivators, is the targeting of cannabis cultivators by criminals. There have been instances where patients have been tracked down not by police, but instead by masked men with weapons who have targeted vulnerable cannabis growers. Although most people’s primary concerns may be regarding the police, in our discussions we discovered that criminal gangs do in fact search patient groups and cannabis cultivation groups that support home cultivation. They are able to use the IP addresses of patients to target vulnerable members of society who are open about their cultivation or use of cannabis.
Using information online, criminals are now known to be raiding homes and stealing cannabis crops from overt amateur cultivators. As an individual breaking the law, you are particularly vulnerable as you would potentially be unwilling to call the police to report these thefts, and so criminals are ultimately seeing this as a risk-free crime. The best way we can tackle this is through education and awareness.
We say this not to instil fear but rather make readers aware of the real-world risk that your digital footprint can easily fall into the wrong hands, making you a target. As often as we are told this as a population, it is still extremely important to remember that what you post online can be viewed by anyone.
Be extremely careful if sharing pictures of cannabis crops on social media, asking open questions about growing, or joining public patient groups. All of this information can be seen by anyone and it is very easy for criminally motivated people to learn a lot about you in a very short space of time. We wish to serve as a reminder to the public that social media, as positive as it can be, does also harbour a criminal element that preys on vulnerable members of society. The police ultimately have the community’s best interests at the core of their operations, and we have found them to be universally supportive of community initiatives that seek to cooperate with them.
Further to the criminal risks of cannabis cultivation, cannabis cultivation is also a relatively delicate process, which can easily become harmful without the appropriate preparation. Cannabis is a highly absorbent plant and anything that enters the soil and the air around it can ultimately end up in the plant. If it is being consumed by people, whatever contaminants were in the plant are then being passed onto humans. Education around the safe cultivation of cannabis is key, and if you are growing anything for human consumption you should educate yourself on the rewards and risks in order to make informed decisions.
Rather than pretending cannabis cultivation doesn’t exist, we wish to inform those who grow their own of the risks associated with their actions and the knock-on effects of drug consumption. Some people have a genuine need for crude cannabis products and our aim is to ensure that they have the maximum amount of information necessary in order to make informed decisions.
Global Cannabinoid Solutions provides expertise to local authorities, legislators, entrepreneurs, patients and activists. Find out more at the GCS website.
Further investigation and research into cannabis use (both recreational and medical) is thoroughly encouraged by The Academy, particularly through the use of our own online courses, evidence base and whitepapers.