How to Legally Grow Medical Cannabis in the UK

Reading time - 8 minutes - September 29, 2021

Seeing a living thing grow is a marvel of mother nature. If you ever have the chance to observe a child grow up, or a small branch become a beautiful tree, or even a minuscule cannabis seed become an incredible marijuana plant, then you’ll have witnessed the wonders of the world. However, unfortunately, not all of these living things are as accepted by the UK government as others. Children growing up is legal, a tree growing is also legal, but what about a cannabis plant? Well, sadly, a cannabis plant is very much illegal to grow in the UK. However, that doesn’t mean people don’t do it. Just like all banned substances, people in the UK have found ways to grow and to enjoy the marijuana plant. It might not be easy or legal, but it’s possible. In fact, since medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2018, people have even found legal ways to do it. So, if you want to know how to grow cannabis legally in the UK… keep reading. 

Is Cannabis Legal in the UK?

The cannabis plant is a complex one. Whilst many government officials may try to simplify all weed into one negative box, the truth is that there are many variants, many cannabinoids and many effects. Therefore, whilst recreational cannabis is illegal in the UK, there are elements of weed that are legal. Let’s take a look at what’s legal and what’s not. 

 What’s Illegal in the UK?

It’s usually easier to start with what’s illegal because – to be brutally honest – the UK is far from being the most progressive country when it comes to cannabis legalization. Cannabis has been illegal in Britain since 1928 and, nowadays, any cannabis substance that contains more than 0.2% THC is illegal in the UK – in whatever form; be it edible, bud or oil. In addition, even CBD buds, which are of course predominantly CBD, are still illegal. This is due to the fact they resemble cannabis buds that could contain an unlawful amount of THC, despite the fact they don’t. 


There are quite strict penalties for the possession, growing and selling of cannabis. 

Possession – the police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re found to have a small amount of cannabis on you (less than an ounce). However, the Cancard can help those with medicinal cannabis prove that they have been prescribed it medically and that it’s not for recreational purposes. 

Growing – Any type of personal plan to grow cannabis – be it CBD or THC – is illegal in the UK. Even if you plant a CBD plant, the act of growing cannabis is very much unlawful. However, you’ll see later that perhaps there are loopholes. 

Selling – If you’re found to be supplying and selling the Class B drug of cannabis then you can be sentenced to 14 years behind bars and an unlimited fine. It’s extremely hard to measure what the sentence will be, but it’s anywhere up to that amount. 

What’s Legal in the UK?

So, if cannabis is illegal then how the heck are you going to go about growing it? Well, there are loopholes and there are parts of the marijuana plant that are accepted by the UK. For instance, CBD products are now legal in the UK. You can find CBD products practically everywhere – coffee shops, health shops, corner shops. It’s not hard to get a hold of. Furthermore, in 2018, medical cannabis became legal in the UK, which was a huge milestone. Whilst it isn’t the easiest substance to get hold of, and the majority of people have to pay extortionate prices to get the private prescription, it’s still a step in the right direction. Plus, whilst possession of unprescribed cannabis is illegal, there has been signs that police are becoming more lenient now to the possession of weed. According to statistics in Devon and Cornwall, prosecution rates are as low as 15% when people are caught with marijuana.

Can I Grow Medical Cannabis?

Despite the fact that the UK is becoming more lenient towards the possession of weed and more accepting of the wonders of cannabis, that still doesn’t mean you can just buy some seeds and grow weed legally. Many people suffering from health issues that require medical cannabis are constantly disappointed by the fact that they are not allowed to grow their own medicine at home. The truth is, where would the money be for the government if people were able to grow it themselves?

Nonetheless, people do grow cannabis illegally. That’s why the dark-web in the UK has some of the best variety and variants of weed in the world. However, sometimes it can be ridiculed for being a bit too ‘skunky’, which means it’s been synthetically tampered with to contain more THC. But cannabis does grow in the UK and an individual can even buy their own weed seeds completely legally. 

The Vault Cannabis Seed company say on their website that: 

“The key reason that we are able to sell you seeds is that we sell them as souvenirs. This is completely legal to do in the UK. We bolster that by not offering up any growing or germination techniques that might be seen to encourage this and therefore break the law. Even if you call our customer service team for this advice, we will politely refuse to answer.”

Just seeds though, no growing. So all hope seems lost, right? Wrong. There is always hope. Of course people still illegally grow cannabis in the UK, but perhaps there’s still a way to grow it legally. Perhaps there’s still a way to grow medical cannabis without constantly being concerned about the coppers knocking at your door. But how?

How To Grow Medical Cannabis Legally

Well, the first thing to remember is that medical cannabis is grown in the UK and has done successfully since its legality in 2018. In fact, and this might come as a bit of shock to you, the UK is the biggest exporter of medical cannabis in the world. Crazy? Yes. 44.9% of medical cannabis is grown in the UK. However, whilst this may be true, the difference is that these are companies, not individuals. You need a license to grow cannabis in the UK and you most definitely need to be part of an official company.  

The reason why it might be possible is because this year – Northern Leaf Ltd, a company based in Jersey – recently became the second company to gain a commercial licence to grow cannabis in the UK. Analytical Cannabis writes:

“Operating out of its 75,000 square feet greenhouse on the island, Northern Leaf Ltd. intends to start cultivation this quarter. By the end of the year, the company plans to be supplying medical cannabis flower and oil to the UK, Denmark, Germany, and other European markets.”

So, it is possible. It just might not be easy. Whilst growing cannabis illegally is slightly easier, it does come with the worry of being discovered. Therefore, perhaps your best route is to first create a company, highlight your intentions, and then apply for a licence. Maybe Northern Leaf Ltd. is just the beginning, and the future will be one of many companies like them. 

medical cannabis

How To Grow Weed

So, let’s imagine you’ve been given a licence, and you’ve done the hard bit. But how do you physically grow it? There are many countries that happily grow acres of cannabis every year, but with the UK’s dodgy weather, how can they be one of them? Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider when creating the best atmosphere for cannabis growth. 


Natural light is the ideal way to grow cannabis. And the long days of summer in the UK are great conditions to grow. However, the dark, wintery nights are not good. That is why you will need artificial lights for the darker times. This will help create a more consistent environment for your bud. 


The temperature in the UK is similar to the light. It’s sometimes good in summer, but can be terrible in winter. However, it’s a common misconception that cannabis enjoys growing in extremely hot conditions. In a way, if it’s good for you, then it’s probably good for the cannabis. 19 to 30 degrees are the ideal temperatures for cannabis growth. Therefore, greenhouses are great at maintaining heat. 


Air is another huge thing to consider. The best weed is the type that’s given a good airflow and breeze during its upbringing. This helps reduce pests on the plants and stops any mildew from building up. This can be done by electric fans, or even natural wind. 


So, now the rest is up to you. Growing cannabis is a joyful process – but it isn’t always a legal activity. So if you’re wanting to grow it legally, these were a few helpful tips to use in your journey to legally growing medical cannabis. Good luck. 

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