17/05/2019 11:40 BST

Woman Growing Her Own Medicinal Cannabis Has Plants Confiscated By Police

Carly Barton said she was threatened with arrest.

 A woman who began cultivating her own cannabis to help medicate her chronic health condition has been forced to hand over her plants to police.

Carly Barton, 32, was visited by officers last week who she said threatened her with arrest if she did comply with a request to give up the six plants growing in her house.

Sussex Police had previously warned that it would “not ignore” Barton’s case after she met with the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.

Barton, who lives with the chronic condition fibromyalgia, is campaigning for a change in the law to allow for an “amnesty” for those growing their own cannabis for medicinal use.

She told HuffPost UK that last week’s confiscation of her plants could see her forced to buy the drug illicitly once more and that she has already begun cultivating new seeds at an undisclosed location. 

Sky News
Carly Barton is campaigning for a change in the law around medicinal cannabis.

“I am disappointed with the actions of Sussex Police, who clearly support the need for change but aren’t willing to put their neck on the line to make a bold decision based on what is in the publics best interest,” she said.

“It is even more disheartening when we are seeing so many positive responses from Police and Crime Commissioners elsewhere in the country.

“It is becoming very increasingly obvious who in this is playing politics and who has the integrity to stand behind their own feelings and experiences on the matter.”

It is currently against the law for people to grow their own cannabis, regardless of how they intend to use it, though there have been some exceptions for medicinal use.

Close to 100 patients have been prescribed medical cannabis oils since a government climbdown last year, but delays remain for many more patients who would benefit from ingesting cannabinoids via other methods.

Barton wrote in a blog on HuffPost UK last month how she walked into her local police station with a signed declaration telling officers she intended to break the law.

“Attached to that disclosure was a proposition to collaborate on a pilot scheme dubbed Carly’s Amnesty that would kick start an access route,” she wrote.

Under the “amnesty”, Barton proposes that those with the proof they have conditions already accepted by ministers as qualifying for medical cannabis would be able to grow up to nine plants at home.

A register of patients with permission to cultivate cannabis would allow police to mitigate complaints and avoid wasting time on warrants or dawn raids, Barton added.

Close to 100 patients have been prescribed medical cannabis oils since a government climbdown last year, but delays remain for many more patients who would benefit from ingesting cannabinoids via other methods.

But the introduction of medical cannabis has “opened a Pandora’s Box”, the UK’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said last month, with patients believing it can cure a host of conditions without evidence it is effective or safe.

Divisional commander Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said: “We are empathetic to Ms Barton’s health challenges and the pressure that the cost of the prescribed medication may have on her finances and we do recognise the unique features of her personal situation.

“However, we must naturally balance this against wider public considerations, legal implications and the fundamental requirement placed upon policing to uphold the law.  

“The cultivation of cannabis is an offence under section four and section six of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. While we are aware that her intention is not to produce and distribute cannabis to others, we are duty bound to take action in these circumstances.

“A letter explaining this and setting out the various options has been hand delivered to Ms Barton. This includes our preferred option of her agreeing to surrender the cannabis plants she has been growing to us for destruction and I am pleased to say that she did so immediately.

“The cultivation of cannabis has to be recorded as a crime and her details will be entered onto the police system, but we do not wish to unnecessarily criminalise Ms Barton’s actions.  

“I would like to thank her for her co-operation in this matter.”

The Home Office has said previously: “The government has no plans to decriminalise recreational cannabis.

“It would send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people, with the potential grave risk of increased misuse of drugs.

“However, specialist doctors can now prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use where there is clinical evidence of benefit.”