The Court of Appeal in the case of R v Healey and others [(2012) EWCA Crim 1005] has issued further guidance on the approach to sentencing those charged with Cultivating Cannabis, an offence which is particularly prevalent.
This case gives advice as to the approach to be taken to the guidelines issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council in February of this year.
The guidelines consider the level of harm done and the culpability of the offender. The case of Healey makes it clear that the level of harm is dictated by quantity and the likelihood of the cultivation increasing the general supply in the community. Judges are advised not to simply accept a defendant’s assertion that large quantities are for personal use.
In respect of culpability, those who create a purpose-built room in the loft or who dedicate a bedroom to the exclusive purpose of cultivating cannabis, having invested significantly in equipment, will be put in the category of carrying out a “significant role” under the guidelines even if the cannabis is for personal use.
The sentences imposed in “Healey” on the various defendants ranged from five months imprisonment to eight months imprisonment, taking account of credit for guilty pleas. None had more than ten plants.