Sunday, 12 February 2012

Cannabis mini-factories on the rise, police warn - the war is lost

Simple logic:
  • the police seem powerless to stop people growing cannabis in their own homes
  • these people are often growing only for their own use, not for profit
  • many people think there are too many drug dealers on the streets
  • it costs the taxpayer a fortune in fighting this war against cannabis users
  • change the law, save money
  • allow people to grow their own cannabis in their own homes for their own use without interference
  • issue licenses to commercial growers and private retail outlets for people to but quality-controlled, consumer-protected cannabis and tax the profits - away from crime and hard drugs
  • save the taxpayer money, save the police time, save court time, raise revenue from tax on profits, keep cannabis away from alcohol and hard drugs, respect people's Rights to a private life, de-glorify cannabis for kids and ease alienation caused by a bad law that punishes people that have done no harm.

Cannabis mini-factories on the rise, police warn,  

Wales On-Line, February 12 2012, By Clare Hutchinson

DIY cannabis farms are popping up in homes across the nation as more and more users turn to growing the illegal drug for cash.
Home Office figures show police seized almost 50,000 cannabis plants in raids across Wales’ four police forces in 2010-11 and 51,000 the year before.
While statistics for seizures in Wales before 2009 are not recorded, Home Office figures show a massive 473% increase in seizures across England and Wales between 2004 and 2008, from 93,270 plants in 2004 to 535,055 four years later.
Much of this has been attributed to a rise in large-scale cannabis factories, run by organised crime gangs, in which whole houses and warehouses are given over to cultivation of the Class B drug.
But police are now warning of a rise in DIY “grow-rooms” with people converting spare rooms and attics into mini-factories of around 10 to 20 plants.
Many are drug addicts who have turned to cannabis cultivation to feed their habit, while others are using it as a way to bring in extra cash.
On one recent raid in Cardiff, police found 12 cannabis plants growing in a family’s attic – just inches above two young boys’ bedrooms. The electrics had been rewired so the light switch for the drugs stash was in one of the boy’s rooms.
In another, drugs officers discovered a cannabis farm behind a fake wall in a bedroom after noticing a chink of light shining through.
In some cases, illegal growers try to disguise the pungent plants’ smell by keeping animals and spraying air freshener.
Others use extra insulation during the winter to prevent heat from special lights warming up the roof and melting any snow – a tell-tale sign that cannabis is being grown.
Detective Chief Inspector Danny Richards, of South Wales Police, said as well as risking a prison sentence, people growing cannabis were also putting the lives of their families in danger.
He said: “There is a very real fire risk associated with these factories, especially because – in many cases – electrical apparatus like plugs and wires are tampered with and re-routed.
“Stopping the cultivation and supply of drugs is a priority for us and one of the main challenges within the communities we serve.
“We reply on people in these communities phoning us up and talking to us about their concerns with particular properties.”
He said warning signs include blacked-out windows and equipment like plastic plant pots and empty tubs of fertiliser left out for the bin collection.
DCI Richards added: “There is a specific offence of cultivation of cannabis and production of a controlled substance.
“The scale of production doesn’t matter – production of cannabis on any scale is illegal and we will always seek to act on any information we receive.”
Detective Chief Inspector Shane Williams, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “Historically the force has seen properties being used to cultivate cannabis and operations have been conducted to disrupt this production.
“While the number isn’t high the public should be assured action will be taken when required.
“I would ask the public to report any suspicious activity to us.”
A spokesman for Gwent Police said: “The commercial cultivation of cannabis is a national issue, whether it is local cultivation and supply or linked to serious organised crime all forces in the UK are working together with national guidance to deal with such offences.
“In Gwent we have developed good relationships with estate agents, landlords and the utility companies to work together to identify and target offenders.
“We have also received positive support from the public. The majority of cannabis factories we uncover and dismantle come as a direct result of information provided by members the public. We are grateful to residents for their assistance in helping to tackle this criminality.
“There is no simple solution to the problem of illegal drug use, manufacturing or trafficking but when information is provided we act on it. Cannabis is illegal and we will continue to prosecute those involved in the cultivation or supply of any controlled drug.”

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