This is the offending law under which people in the UK can be prosecuted for possession, cultivation, supply, possession
with intent to supply, production, importation or exportation of the plant which many people find sacred. One can also be
prosecuted for being knowingly concerned with these offences, or conspiracy to commit them (you do not have to do anything
but agree to break the law to be guilty of conspiracy).
Sentencing varies throughout the land but are usually in agreed guidelines. These are: for possession anything from a caution
to 5 years; for the other offences anything from a conditional discharge to 14 years. Generally the more that the amount involved
is worth, the harsher the sentence.
A strange anomaly in law is that one can be prosecuted for 'allowing one's premises to be used' for the above offences.
It is an offence to let people smoke or eat cannabis on your premises. It is also an offence to allow people to smoke opium,
but strangely enough it is not an offence to allow the injection of heroin or the snorting of cocaine!
Human rights were finally brought into UK law with the passing of this act of parliament in 2000.
The act offers
the UK citizen some protection of basic Human rights and Fundamental freedoms as laid out in the European Convention.
prosecution of people for the possession, use and small scale cultivation, of cannabis in private, is contrary to several
articles of human rights, in particular Article 8, according to eminent UK barristers.
As of May 2001, several cases are
pending at the appeals court to decide whether the Misuse of drugs Act is compatible with the Human rights Act
more about this here.
MAGNA CARTA AND THE JURY
The Magna Carta established that no man shall be punished for violating the King's law except by the lawful judgement
of his peers. Since then trial by jury has served as the final safeguard between government and the people.
The jury's power to say 'no' was put to the test in 1670. The trial of William Penn and William Mead resulted in one of
the most important developments of the common law jury. During the previous six years English juries often acquitted Quakers
for violating Parliament's command that all religious services conform to Anglican ritual. The King's Bench frequently responded
to verdicts for acquittal in such trials by fining jurors.
When the common law juries refused to enforce the Crown's religious intolerance, London soldiers locked and guarded the
doors of Quaker Church. Penn and Mead preached in the streets and were arrested.
On the following page is the text of a plaque that is outside the Old Bailey Courthouse.
Near this site William Penn and William Mead were tried in 1670 for preaching to an unlawful assembly in Gracechurch
This tablet commemorates the courage and endurance of the jury, Thomas Vere, Edward Bushell and ten others,
who refused to give a guilty verdict against them although they were locked up without food for two nights and were fined
for their final verdict of Not Guilty.
The case of these jurymen was reviewed on a writ of Habeas Corpus and Chief Justice Vaughn delivered the opinion
of the court which established the Right of Juries to give their Verdict according to their conviction.
This means that the jurors have the right to decide on the justice of the law. If a jury decides that the actions of the
accused, although in fact breaking one or more laws, does not deserve punishment then they are entitled to return a verdict
of not guilty, irrespective to any instructions to the contrary from or demands of the judge.
There have been other trials where this has happened. A recent case in Liverpool is a more modern example. Although admitting
to the several acts of supplying her sick daughter with cannabis, she pleaded not guilty to charges under the Misuse of Drugs
Act. The stated that the supply was medicinal albeit illegal; and that the supply was not misuse. Having convinced the jury
that her act did not warrant punishment they found her not guilty. This was after a great deal of pressure from her solicitor
and barrister who wanted her to plead guilty.
The judge normally reminds the jury of their oath. The oath is that they will reach a verdict on the evidence alone. Judge,
Prosecution and Defence all fail in their duty by not telling the jury that they may acquit if they find the law itself to
be unjust. The FCDA claim it may be a cause for appeal for almost every trial by jury conviction this century. This is probably why the wigs
do not wish to deal with the problem.
A person on cannabis charges could plead not guilty irrespective of the evidence. It would then be up to his defence to
prove the law unjust and tell the jury of their Right. Most judges specifically ban any argument on the justification of the
law. In that case there would be grounds to appeal, if you get a legal representative to take it on. Otherwise the question
is can you convince the jury.
In America there is a body called the Fully Informed Jury Association. They advocate telling the juries of their rights,
including consideration of defendant's motives as part of the evidence and their right ton acquit or convict according to
The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy- Chief Justice John Jay USA
I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which government can be held to the principles of its
constitution-Thomas Jefferson (1789)