Police in Keelung last week urged people to temper their curiosity about cannabis horticulture and not buy seeds of the category 2 drug online, as it remains illegal to use, grow, transport and distribute.
Keelung City Police Department Criminal Investigation Division Second Corp Captain Lin Hsueh-chih (林學志) on Monday last week said that while marijuana has medicinal uses, it remains illegal to import seeds and grow the plant in Taiwan.
Recently, several people have bought cannabis seeds online with the intent to grow, with a seller directly mailing packages to buyers to circumvent regulations, Lin said.
Photo copied by Wu Sheng-ju, Taipei Times
The police department said it last year pursued more than 20 cases of people seeking to grow cannabis, most of whom had purchased the seeds over the Internet.
Some of the buyers said they intended to grow the plants for personal use, but others said they bought the seeds to challenge their horticulture skills, as they heard it could be difficult to cultivate, it said.
The cannabis agriculture enthusiasts included office workers, engineers, foreign workers and students, it said.
After being alerted to graduate students seeking to buy cannabis seeds online, the police obtained a warrant to search one of the students’ apartments, it said.
Police said the student told them that they were just curious about what a cannabis plant looked like, adding that they did not expect to succeed at growing one.
Another incident involved a worker from Thailand, who told police that they grew cannabis for personal consumption — making a tea with the leaves, the police said.
While legal amendments in the past few years have adjusted the sentencing based on a person’s intent for growing cannabis — whether for sale or personal use — the act itself is still illegal, lawyer Ko Lin-hung (柯林宏) said.
Under article 13 of the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), people convicted of transporting or selling cannabis seeds with intent to provide for cultivation face a minimum of two years in prison and a fine of no more than NT$200,000 (US$6,361).
The Legislative Yuan in 2022 passed amendments to the act that changed the sentencing for people who grow cannabis for personal use, without intent to distribute, Ko said.
The sentence was reduced from the original five years in prison to a minimum of one year, up to a maximum of seven years, he added.
The amendment also reduced the fine from NT$5 million to a maximum of NT$1 million, he said.
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