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Cheat Sheet: Where Is Cannabis Tolerated In The UK?

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As a follow-up to our recent article about British police forces secretly turning a blind eye to cannabis use in County Durham, we figured you might like to know how things have developed.

Mirror was kind enough to ask each police department about their stance on marijuana possession and cultivation in response to the Durham decision, and the results are in: most places, you’ll still get busted – at least officially.

There’s no doubt enforcement of cannabis laws has relaxed across the country, but we wouldn’t bet on getting away scot free just yet. Many districts still punish cannabis to the full extent of their capability. The Mirror article features in-depth responses that may give you a more complete answer, but we’ve summarized the responses from police forces below, along with our brief evaluation.

Bedfordshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. Based on the wording, you’re probably okay as long as you’re not blatant or producing large amounts.

Cambridgeshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. They’ve come out explicitly rejecting the decisions made by Durham police, but first offences only receive a warning.

Cheshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Poor. They’ve ramped up efforts to stop cannabis production in the area lately, rather than relax their attitude.

City of London

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Good. It’s still illegal, but obviously a very low priority. They officially echoed recent statements by the National Police Chief’s Council.

Cleveland

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Good. They officially act with intelligence. If your grow operation is bothering the neighbors, that’s the main situation that will get you busted. Otherwise, you’ll likely be left alone.

Cumbria

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Poor. They’re sticking strictly to the law. Read the books and expect to be treated accordingly.

Devon and Cornwall

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Essex

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. Expected traffickers will be dealt with strictly, but those in possession of personal amounts will get a warning.

Gwent

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Poor. Even one plant will get you in trouble.

Greater Manchester

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Hampshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. They’re also referring to the NPCC guidelines, which suggest hope for an intelligent approach to cannabis.

Hertfordshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Poor. They used the Mirror’s question as an excuse to put out a phone number to report cannabis growers. They’re not easing up at all. This may be one of the last places we see cannabis tolerated in the UK.

Kent

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Poor. They’re waiting for the government to act, and plan on enforcing all relevant laws without any critical thinking until then.

Lancashire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Leicestershire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Lincolnshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. Their chief said they will “always seek to enforce the law against those who cultivate or distribute drugs”, which isn’t a good sign overall, but no mention of the approach toward personal use was made. Reading between the lines could work in your favor, but we wouldn’t put any money on it.

Merseyside

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Norfolk

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Nottinghamshire

Policy change: No official change in policy – we think?

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Good. Their response was a bit strange, but suggested a lenient and tolerant attitude toward all drug offences. They’re not stopping and searching for cannabis, but don’t expect to just waltz through town with a trunk full of blow – they cited an increased focus on cocaine use and trafficking in juxtaposition to their loosened grip on cannabis control.

Police service of Northern Ireland

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

South Yorkshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

South Wales

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Decent. They’ll follow the NPCC guidelines. It will most likely depend on who busts you, and how you act after the fact.

Surrey

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Good. Same situation as Cleveland: they wait for community members to complain rather than actively seek growers.

Suffolk

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown.

Thames Valley

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Ambiguous. It depends on what you make of their statement: “Thames Valley Police follows the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice which sets out a range of sanctions available to the police to deal with offenders and secure an effective justice outcome. This is used as a proportionate response to the offence and takes into account such things as whether it a first offence for example for possession of cannabis.” So basically, they’re like the rest in following the NPCC ideals.

Warwickshire and West Mercia

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown. Business as usual, they claim.

Wiltshire

Policy change: No official change in policy.

Expected tolerance of cannabis: Unknown. They’re sticking to the NPCC guidelines.

A few areas did not reply, but this response provides overwhelming confirmation that County Durham may stand alone – at least on paper, and for the time being. Chances are good that you’ll find little hassle if you’re polite and discreet with your personal use and cultivation.

Though nobody else has taken the opportunity to stand directly beside the Durham Constabulary, many hint at their desire to do so. It’s only a matter of time before acceptance policies begin resonating throughout the United Kingdom and into the constituency-obsessed minds of lawmakers; only then will we see cannabis tolerated in the UK.

Image: maziarz / Shutterstock.com

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