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What is Durham Police's 'new' Cannabis policy - interview with Ron Hogg

 This morning's papers are full of headlines claiming a UK police force has given the green light to small-scale cannabis users to grow small amounts of the drug.

However these claims seem to contradict the statement released by Durham's Police and crime commissioner Ron Hogg yesterday.

Twitter is abuzz with medical and recreational cannabis users rejoicing at a supposed relaxation of police policy.

However there is a lot of confusion, and a dangerous message has been sent out which could encourage people to ‘unwittingly’ break the law.

Here is Mr Hogg’s position on the subject as a straight forward verbatim Q and A:


Q: The newspapers today are saying you have given the “green light” to small-scale cannabis users/ growers. Are they wrong?

A: Yes. I am disappointed with the Independent as I spoke to them yesterday (Tuesday) and explained our position on this. Our community wants us to target large-scale growers and street dealers and we are saying this will be our priority.

The newspapers have taken an interpretation that sensationalises what we have said.

If we get a report of anybody growing cannabis on any scale we will absolutely deal with that. But it is about targeting, what we are saying is it will not be our top priority.

Growing cannabis on any scale is illegal.

Q: If somebody spots a neighbour growing one cannabis plant in their back garden or on their windowsill do you want them to call the police.

A: Absolutely yes - and we will deal with this. 

Growing cannabis on any scale is illegal and if someone is reported to us for doing it we will deal with this.

We have just had a case where somebody was reported for having half a dozen plants and they were given a caution.


Q: Would that have landed them with a criminal record?

A: You have got me there, I don’t know whether that counts as a criminal record.


Q: If somebody reading the papers today thinks it is safe for them to grow one or two cannabis plants discreetly in their homes is that the case.

A: No, we will absolutely go after them.


Q: Cannabis users may now think it is safer [in Durham]  to grow a small amount for their personal consumption rather than use a street dealer. Are they safe from prosecution?

A: No. This is not the case.

We all know that there are millions of cannabis users in the UK so we have got to be realistic about it.

We will not in our morning meeting be making a list to target Mrs Jones who we suspect might be growing a small amount of cannabis.

However, if it is reported we will absolutely pursue it.

It is all about reducing the harm caused by drugs, dealers and growers cause huge harm to the communities.


Q: You mentioned the ‘harm’ caused by drugs. Do you think it is more harmful for a teenager caught smoking cannabis to end up with a criminal record than the perceived harm caused by the drug.

A: We refer people in this situation to the ‘checkpoint’ service for treatment if they are caught using cannabis. They will receive a caution.