HC Deb 09 June 2004 vol 422 cc423-4W
Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list the purposes for which cultivation of cannabis seeds is licensed by his Department; [174242]

(2) if he will make it his policy to require purchasers of cannabis seeds only to cultivate such seeds for lawful, licensable purposes; and if he will make a statement; [174243]

(3) if he will describe the licensing regime for the cultivation of cannabis seeds. [174244]

Caroline Flint

The seeds of the cannabis plant are not subject to control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The possession, sale and the use of the seeds for culinary and similar purposes are therefore not subject to restriction. This follows the provisions of international law—UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961—on which our law is based. The Convention specifically exempts cultivation of cannabis seed production which is classed as an industrial purpose.

It is not considered practicable or desirable to bring the seeds or their users under control. The protection afforded by Section 6 of the Act which prohibits cannabis cultivation without a licence is deemed sufficient. Such unlawful production would be a criminal offence the maximum penalty for which is fourteen years imprisonment.

In common with certain other substances controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, cannabis is subject to designation under Section 7. The effect of this in relation to cultivation is to restrict licensing to activities connected with research or other special purposes. Such research can be either medical or scientific. Cultivation is subject to security conditions assessed on the basis of the individual circumstances and to record keeping requirements. The research has to be recognised as serious by the medical or scientific communities.

The only other special purpose of any significance where licensing has been permitted is the cultivation of cannabis for the production of industrial hemp (used in animal bedding, specialised building products and other materials). In this case only cannabis seeds of a very low psycho-active content are used (as prescribed under EU regulation). Otherwise the only other activities which have been acknowledged as special are cultivation for

Number of persons1 proceeded against for certain motoring offences, England and Wales 1993–2002
Driving or causing or permitting another person

to drive other than in accordance with a licence2

Driving while disqualified from holding or

obtaining a licence

Using a motor vehicle uninsured against third

party risks

1993 23,482 26,125 265,549
1994 23,362 27,284 258,709
1995 22,886 27,698 265,598
1996 22,640 26,186 247,113
1997 24,004 26,135 236,616
1998 24,159 26,940 232,862

seed production and education where cultivation has been used in illustrating the long history of the use of hemp products.