This isn't going to be a polemical post - I do have views on the drug laws, which you can probably guess - because that's not what has interested me. What's interested me is that The Law West Of Ealing Broadway, the anonymous blog of a magistrate, has one of their periodical posts up inviting readers to speculate about the sentences for a variety of crimes, this time on some drug smuggling offences. In particular, the punishments for the two people convicted of smuggling cannabis - and people's speculations about what they'd get - interested me (not just because I guessed right, although I did, more or less).
What shocked me was the absolute ignorance of some of the people commenting about what an amount of cannabis might be, in terms of what it's likely going to be used for, and so the penalties the law might apply to it. The two cases of cannabis - the other three were all coke - were of £300 of hash, and 1.3kg of weed. As I understand the law, neither of those are remotely close to being personal use for legal purposes, and probably rightly so, granting that the law as it stands makes sense. £300 of hash is, I'd guess, about six ounces, or about 180g (say the street price of an ounce is about £80-£100, and you're going to get bulk discount). Bearing in mind that you'd look to get at least four or five joints out of two grams of hash, that's about three hundred and thirty joints. Grant that a single joint, unless you are smoking an awful lot, is going to make you high for a fair while if you smoke it to yourself. If we found someone coming back through customs with, say, a barrel containing a hundred litres of wine - which seems about equivalent to me, in terms of its potential effects - we'd think it was pretty odd to say that it was just for personal use.
I can, though, just about conceive of people buying that much hash purely for personal consumption, though, because people don't generally smoke by themselves but have their mates round and all get stoned, which I think kind of counts as personal use (if you're not making a profit from it, and/or you're not selling it on to people you don't know other than to sell drugs to, it's not quite dealing: think of it like this - if I offer to go to the off-licence on the way round to yours to buy some beers, or whatever, and ask to split the cost, that's not selling alcohol on, but reimbursing myself) and because hash keeps. Weed, though, doesn't: as anyone who smokes tobacco will know, an opened packet of tobacco starts to go all dry and crumbly after a couple of days. Weed is pretty much like that too: unless you've got some fairly sophisticated storage equipment, it'll begin to deteriorate fairly quickly.
Also, the amount involved is about seven times as much as in the hash case in the weed case: even if you were smoking all day, every day, like people smoke cigarettes, (and that'd be a very expensive habit: the weed'd be worth roughly four grand, and a lot more than that if you were prepared to break it up to sell), that much weed would take you several months to get through. This is to say nothing of the sheer physical size of amount: weed is a lot less dense than tobacco, and 25g of tobacco is one of those £5 packs in the newsagent. This would have been forty of those: it would have filled, at least, a couple of carrier bags. The idea that anyone who wasn't going to make a profit out of it would try and bring back a couple of carrier bags of pungent (an ounce or so will stink out a ruckstack in a couple of hours, if it's good, even through sealed bags) weed through customs seems bizarre to me: you just wouldn't take that risk to avoid going to your vaguely dodgy local drug dealer, since, after all, you'd been spending, if you were caught, a fair amount of time locked up with a whole load of really dodgy people.
In fact, as I understand it, depending on whether it's broken up into smaller amounts or not (which indicates you're selling it: otherwise, why would you have broken it up?), at the moment, anything more than about half an ounce is assumed to be dealing. I don't think that makes sense, because of the way I would revise the law (assuming it's sensible to have it at all) to change what counts as dealing, but there is no way you could consistently regard 1.3 kilos, eighty times that amount, as generally for personal use.