Know something about cannabis cultivation?

Volunteers needed for cannabis cultivation TV documentary

By Dr Gary Potter

Want to share your knowledge and experiences about cannabis cultivation – and help dispel some myths and stereotypes?

Want to be on telly (anonymously, of course)?

October films, an independent TV production company, have been commissioned to make a documentary for ITV about cannabis cultivation in the UK. They are looking for potential volunteers to appear in this documentary – strictly anonymously, with identities masked (unless contributors wish to be identified). The focus is on the divisions in the UK market between ‘cottage industry’ type growers and the involvement of organised crime in some parts of the market, and they are particularly looking for growers with interesting stories to tell.

  • The overall picture or angle (for want of a better word) they are exploring is how organised crime has hijacked the cottage industry favouring smaller growers and moved towards larger scale farms. An interesting aspect here is the effect of police clamp downs which arguably push smaller scale, independent growers out of the market, leaving it increasingly in the hands of organised crime. There is a belief amongst the production team that if cannabis were legalised the links to organised crime wouldn’t exist so strongly.
  • They are trying to access anyone who can illustrate some of these points with their own personal experiences. They are interested (of course) in anyone who is or has been involved in the growing/dealing world. In particular:

–  growers being ‘used’ by middle-men/dealers (it would be interesting to see the different examples of threat or coercion used)

–  dealers using ‘co-ops’ or ‘franchises’ as a way of getting produce to sell (again anyone who can talk about using these business models and why they are doing so)

– growers that are targeted by or are targeting rival growers

– growers that have been approached by organised crime types because of their horticultural skills

– growers that grow or dealers that deal a selection of different strains of cannabis and can discuss the different properties and how the connoisseur market has developed

Cannabis cultivation grow tent

Cannabis cultivation.


If anybody is interested in participating, or wants further information, they can either contact Marta Shaw at October films or Dr Gary Potter at London South Bank University who is working with October films as an expert adviser ( Dr Potter has published a number of academic papers on cannabis cultivation, with a particular focus on small-scale ‘ideologically’ motivated growers. He has written a book on cannabis cultivation in the UK (Weed, Need and Greed: a study of domestic cannabis cultivation) and co-edited (with Prof. Tom Decorte, University of Ghent, Belgium, and Prof. Martin Bouchard, Simon Fraser University, Canada) a book on cannabis cultivation around the world (World Wide Weed: global trends in cannabis cultivation and its control). He is firmly of the belief that small-scale cannabis cultivation should be legalised.


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  1. Love this idea, as a ex hobby grower turned to setting up a hydro/head shop due to family commitments and “risk reduction” (Jail Time) I would love to take part, and clear up a few myths, I never got involved or wanted to get involved in the organised commercial growing due to the greed that run’s through out this side of the industry, although profitable possabilities “not somthing for me”, my love is for the plant and buds 😉 <3 xxxx

  2. is it a paying position. i work in the usa with MD’s helping educate them on the endo-cannabinoid system. I’ve seen such corruption, political agenda fulfillment at the cost of the greater good of patients. People fake being “nice” just to back stab patients and rob them etc. I studied cannabis sativa for ten years. I am privileged to be associated with a world class project & i am anxious to see where the science of this plant comes into MD and PhD life

  3. I did do a small scale grow in a wardrobe but don’t any more due to circumstances. It’s certainly true that commercial growers are ripping people off, the fact most spray the produce with anything from hair spray to floor polish and, some say, lead based compounds to get the weight up says it all.

  4. i had a hobby grow up until february this year i had 10 plants a nice little operation goin on till it was all confiscated now things have taken a turn for the worst, im up in crown court soon because the police think im a drug dealer because i like to weigh my yeilds this bullshit cannot go on anymore
    we need to stand together people

    • as an ex hippy I imagine some people grow their own for a number of reasons. 1. You can grow organically, so no nasty chemicals and a smoother tasting end product. 2. When you grow your own you are not putting money in the pockets of organised crooks. 3. And the reason you had scales is because you are keeping data. You’ve never grown before so you take data (i.e. weight per ratio of light, nutes etc.) from individual plants so as to find the best strain for your next grow. And the reason there are sooooo many plants is because it makes more sense to grow “just the once”. It costs less and reduces risk of being caught. Most dope “on the market” is dried, cured, sold and smoked within two weeks of harvest. It is much better to let your grow cure for at least six months before smoking. Smoother and stronger. …..or so they say. 🙂

  5. Started smoking bud when i was 15 went from picking up small amounts to buying the odd big. Now im 20 and i have a Reasonable outdoor grow with a mix of strains (auto flower russian rocket fuel, feminized UK cheese, lemon skunk, Pakistani valley and a couple i have no idea on but know they are females, all grown in 10L air pots strictly organic no nutrients) and get a great selection of strains in from my sources. One of the sources i get from is what you would call organised criminal gang and they love the fact weed is illegal! they have got to a point where they can pay someone else to take the dive for them by hiring them to watch the grow, they hire people to crop the plant and have nothing to do with it until its ready to be sold. the people who make the big money stay under the radar while the people trying to make a few extra quid because the mortgage needs paying off get fucked over by the law. The government needs to wake up and see that small personal growers are not causing any harm, its the big drug rings which bring violence with them that need to be stopped.

    • That last point is exactly the point I try to make in much of my research – and a point that should come across strongly in the documentary.

  6. The progamme makers appear not to have a section on medical cultivation. Medicinal users ideally prefer home grown to avoid adulteration, pesticides etc that are likely to be involved in so called commercial production. As well medicinal users can choose suitable strains to meet their needs.

  7. I am shocked and surprised at NORML UK supporting this venture and promoting Potter as an ‘ally’ of ours

    Dr Gary Potter personally ‘apologised’ via his solicitor to the convicted fraudster and liar Peter Reynolds, Potter now claims this is an error and he claims his solicitor is now seeking legal redress from Reynolds over alleged defamation but he’s as evasive as a bag of eels on the subject

    By all means read Dr Potter’s books, I seriously doubt anyone from NORML UK has read them because this is how Potter refers to cannabis consumers and growers, the following are some of his published ramblings

    Potter: The different message boards, chat rooms and email lists I was monitoring enabled a certain degree of observation of how participants in these online forums interacted with each other

    Potter: “As I got to know my existing contacts better, and began to mix with them more in both their social and more private lives, I developed some of them into key contacts and began to conduct formal and informal interviews and observational research on (with) them.

    From these I built up some detailed case studies and also improved my understanding of how cannabis growing and dealing worked
    within this scene. I gradually got to know some of my contacts’ contacts as well.

    I now had a passing knowledge of cannabis growing as well as of the wider drug using and drug dealing cultures overlapping this scene. I also had dreadlocks, dressed somewhat scruffily and had been known to smoke cannabis myself on occasion. In short I was able to slip in to these new circles with comparative ease, very much as an insider, and found that I was soon able to watch my contacts and their connections in various aspects of their day-to-day lives.

    Potter: Aside from drug use and distribution cannabis growers often exhibit a ‘low-level’ criminality – although this may arguably be true for the majority of the population as a whole! This can range from minor acts of civil disobedience through ‘petty’ and up to more serious and even ‘organised’ crime.

    Potter: Self medication – using cannabis to treat a condition without having a doctor’s recommendation – may prove damaging for the medical marijuana movement as it seems, in many instances, that ‘self-medication’ may just be an excuse for recreational use and any associated cultivation

    [b]Potter: Some pro cannabis fanatics even argue that all cannabis use can be construed as medical because people use cannabis to make themselves feel better and to treat physical and mental ailments even if they do so subconsciously.

    in addition, the program’s interest is ‘Cannabis Farms’ and the associated criminality,

    “Know thine enemy indeed”

    • Thank you for expressing your concerns Jeff, now please do allow me to respond!

      Concerning your comments about my legal correspondence with Mr Reynolds: a very carefully worded apology was published following advice from my employer’s solicitors, who have also been acting for me in these cases. It would be very ill-advised for me to talk about this in any detail, given the terms of settlement with Mr Reynolds. I’m sorry if this makes me appear “as evasive as a bag of eels”.

      On your various comments about my methodology; yes, I observed participants in online forums – it is called online ethnography, and complements traditional “off-line” or “face-to-face” ethnography. There is a detailed explanation of the full methodology in the book – I can provide a more detailed overview if anyone wants it (it didn’t all get into the book because of word limit constraints on the PhD thesis on which the book is based). There is a long tradition of criminologists employing ethnographic research methods to help get a better understanding of certain groups society labels as criminal. Generally speaking, one of the main aims of this research approach is to dispel myths and to demonstrate how these “criminals” are not so different from “normal” people after all.

      I’m not sure if you intended to imply that my research consists of “spying” on cannabis growers or that it is likely to cause harm to those involved in growing. As I state clearly in the book, I was always as open as I could be about my position as a researcher. Although I have spoken to many hundreds of growers over the years in either face-to-face or online situations I don’t think you will find a single one who feels that I jeopardised them in any way.

      Turning to your comments on my findings; yes, many cannabis growers exhibit other low-level criminality. As I say in the same paragraph, this is arguably true of the vast majority of the population. The point, however, is that whilst most growers are (by strict legal definition) criminals, they are no more involved in crime (beyond cannabis related offences) than most other people – or, put simply, most cannabis growers are normal people.

      As for the bit about self-medication, it is just a simple truth that some claim medical use as a reason to either morally or legally justify their law breaking activities. I don’t condemn this. It is a statistical fact that in countries where medical growing has some legal recognition, more growers claim to do so for medical purposes; in countries where small scale growing is more generally tolerated, the proportion of growers who claim to do so for medical purposes is much smaller. This is not to undermine those who get medical benefit from cannabis, it is an analysis of the ways in which law breaking activity is justified and how “any port in a storm” may be used by some with a less direct medical benefit from cannabis.

      It is worth reminding people here that my book is based on my doctoral thesis, which was a study of a particular activity labelled as “crime” and a particular group of participants labelled as “criminals” – it is a criminology thesis. This is not to say that I think these people should be seen as criminals but – like it or not – that is their current status under the law. The point of much of my research, and the point of the documentary, is to show that most cannabis growers are not ‘real’ criminals.

      If anyone wants to know more about my research, and the positions I take therein, then please get in touch (email address in the article above). I can’t make my book available for free but if anyone wants to see the sections Jeff quotes from (but with the bits he doesn’t quote as well) I can send the equivalent sections from the original PhD thesis. People who have read the book – I know there are some out there! – can vouch for the fact that there are minimal changes between the two versions.

      Dr Gary Potter

      • Bag of eels indeed!

        What’s your connection with this film Gary? you claim your are employed as an ‘Expert Adviser’, yet October Films claim that you aren’t and say that you were merely interviewed, what’s the truth?

    • If only that were true! Unfortunately, there is still a large criminal market – not everyone grow’s their own (for whatever reasons).

      • Yeah it is called GW Pharmaceuticals, it is listed on the stock market.

        How do you justify it being criminal to cultivate a plant that is less harmful than many of the things you have in your kitchen?

        Clearly you do not understand this movement or what it stands for. Our argument has always been that it is not a crime, and you are here endorsing people to come and be interviewed so you can portray the criminal market that you help fabricate.

  8. And surely it would be better to make a program about the health benefits, rather than crazy storys that will only give cannabis a bad name. Do you know cannabis can kill cancer cells? Much more exsiting than criminal behavior no?

  9. A program that intends to focus on criminality and appears to have no interest in medical uses smells like a hit piece to me.

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