UK: Man sentenced for trying to evade cannabis laws

A man has been sentenced after fraudulently trying to evade the prohibition on the importation of cannabis.

Darshan Patel, 38, of Partridge Close, Covingham, Swindon, was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

In October 2020, Wiltshire Police was contacted by the UK Border Agency who had intercepted several packets of a green herbal substance which tested positive for THC – tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive component in cannabis – addressed to Patel and his company RED EYEZ.

Products listed on the company’s website for sale included hash and leaf tea, advertised as hemp or CBD – alongside false claims these were legal to sell due to the low THC content of below 0.2%.

A warrant was obtained and in January 2021, Patel’s home address was raided and he was arrested.

Numerous items were seized including several phones, a quantity of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin, digital scales, cash and banking paperwork.

An investigation was carried out and forensic tests indicated that all exhibits were positive as cannabis.

Although they had much lower levels of THC, this doesn’t impact on the classification of the cannabis and cannabis resin as a Class B controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

On February 23 at Swindon Crown Court, Patel was sentenced on one count of possession of cannabis with intent to supply and three counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on importation in relation to the Class B drug herbal cannabis.

Proceeds of crime proceedings are being instigated in relation to the benefit Patel has made from the illegal sale of cannabis.

PC Chris Hemns, then of the Fortitude Team, said: “Patel was caught trying to exploit the current legislation, essentially by using the law which governs the cultivation of hemp and applying it to the selling of cannabis products.

“Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it’s illegal to sell the leaves and flowers from a cannabis plant even when the THC level is below 0.2%.

“Despite trying to get around the system, we have caught up with him and this case is a reminder that selling controlled drugs, in whatever form, is harmful and we will always pursue it to the full extent of the law.”

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