Last week, the power was explicitly used for the first time in respect of a substantive offence. In Zhi Pen Lin v HM Advocate  HCJAC 62, the court invoked section 118(7) in order to say (at para 13) that “the appropriate starting point for… "gardeners" involved in relatively large scale operations [of cultivating cannabis] will ordinarily be in the range of 4 to 5 years' imprisonment”.
Until relatively recently, that was a range of sentences open only to the High Court, but sheriffs' sentencing powers in solemn cases were increased from three to five years on the 1st May 2004. (This implemented section 13 of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997: it is not only section 118(7) which has had to wait some time for practical effect.) It may be that the vastly increased number of judges who can now impose relatively long sentences of imprisonment will encourage the appeal court to make more use of its power to issue sentencing guidelines.
That is not the justification offered directly by the appeal court in Zhi Pen Lin, which refers instead (at para 10) to “a degree of disparity, at least in the High Court, in the sentences so far pronounced on persons convicted of relatively minor involvement in such activity”. However, the fact that many future "gardening" prosecutions may take place in the