Production of a controlled drug / Cultivation of cannabis plant

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, s.4(2)(a) or (b), Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, s.6(2)
Effective from: 27 February 2012

Production of a controlled drug

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (section 4(2)(a) or (b))

Triable either way unless the defendant could receive the minimum sentence of seven years for a third drug trafficking offence under section 110 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 in which case the offence is triable only on indictment.

Class A

Maximum: Life imprisonment

Offence range: Community order – 16 years’ custody

A class A offence is a drug trafficking offence for the purpose of imposing a minimum sentence under section 110 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000

Class B

Maximum: 14 years’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 10 years’ custody

Class C

Maximum: 14 years’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 8 years’ custody

Cultivation of cannabis plant

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (section 6(2))

Maximum: 14 years’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 10 years’ custody

User guide for this offence


Step 1 – Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offender’s culpability (role) and the harm caused (output or potential output) with reference to the tables below.

In assessing culpability, the sentencer should weigh up all of the factors of the case to determine role. Where there are characteristics present which fall under different role categories, the court should balance these characteristics to reach a fair assessment of the offender’s culpability.In assessing harm, output or potential output is determined by the weight of the product or number of plants/scale of operation. For production offences, purity is not taken into account at step 1 but is dealt with at step 2.

Where the operation is on the most serious and commercial scale, involving a quantity of drugs significantly higher than category 1, sentences of 20 years and above may be appropriate, depending on the role of the offender.

Culpability demonstrated by offender’s role

One or more of these characteristics may demonstrate the offender’s role. These lists are not exhaustive.

LEADING role:

  • directing or organising production on a commercial scale;
  • substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain;
  • expectation of substantial financial gain;
  • uses business as cover;
  • abuses a position of trust or responsibility.

SIGNIFICANT role:

  • operational or management function within a chain;
  • involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward;
  • motivated by financial or other advantage, whether or not operating alone;
  • some awareness and understanding of scale of operation.

LESSER role:

  • performs a limited function under direction;
  • engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation;
  • involvement through naivety/exploitation;
  • no influence on those above in a chain;
  • very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation;
  • if own operation, solely for own use (considering reasonableness of account in all the circumstances).

Category of harm Indicative output or potential output (upon which the starting point is based):

Category 1

  • heroin, cocaine – 5kg;
  • ecstasy – 10,000 tablets;
  • LSD – 250,000 tablets;
  • amphetamine – 20kg;
  • cannabis – operation capable of producing industrial quantities for commercial use;
  • ketamine – 5kg.

Category 2

  • heroin, cocaine – 1kg;
  • ecstasy – 2,000 tablets;
  • LSD – 25,000 squares;
  • amphetamine – 4kg;
  • cannabis – operation capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use;
  • ketamine – 1kg.

Category 3

  • heroin, cocaine – 150g;
  • ecstasy – 300 tablets;
  • LSD – 2,500 squares;
  • amphetamine – 750g;
  • cannabis – 28 plants;*
  • ketamine – 150g.

 Category 4

  • heroin, cocaine – 5g;
  • ecstasy – 20 tablets;
  • LSD – 170 squares;
  • amphetamine – 20g;
  • cannabis – 9 plants (domestic operation);*
  • ketamine – 5g.

* With assumed yield of 40g per plant