Europe: Selling Grow Equipment Not a Crime, British Appeals Court Rules

A British appeals court has thrown out the convictions of three men charged with conspiracy to aid and abet the production of cannabis for selling hydroponic growing equipment. Prosecutors argued that the men used their hydroponics firm to supply equipment to marijuana growers and should have reasonably foreseen that the equipment would be used to grow marijuana. But prosecutors never showed that anyone had used the equipment to grow marijuana.

Still, that was enough to win convictions at trial court, and the three men, owner David Kenning, employee Paul Blackshaw, and business partner Paul Fenwick, were sentenced to 21 months, probation, and three years, respectively.

But it wasn't good enough for the British appeals court. In his June 24 decision in Regina v. Kenning et al., Lord Phillips, the lord chief justice, ruled that the offenses of conspiracy to aid and abet and counsel the production of cannabis were "unknown to law" and had to be quashed. "There can be no conviction for aiding and abetting, counseling or procuring, unless the offense is shown to have occurred," he said. "It is not an offense to attempt to aid and abet, counsel or procure the commission of an offense."

Britain is in the midst of a marijuana mania, with busts of grows reported every day across the country. According to some estimates, home growers account for between 60% and 80% of the British marijuana supply. While it is legal to sell high-powered lights and hydroponic growing systems -- both of which can be used to grow all sorts of plants -- it is not legal to assist in growing marijuana.

But now, British authorities will have to actually prove that any given equipment supplier knew that the person he sold it do was going to use it to grow marijuana. That should bring some relief to the British grow shop industry.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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