Cannabis cultivation: Are the police really that stupid?

Are the police really stupid? By that I mean are they utterly thick, incapable of logical thought and reason? Events of this week would seem to indicate they are, which is actually quite a worrying development.

On Monday ACPO – The Association of Chief Police Officers – published a paper concerning “The national problem profile (of the) commercial cultivation of Cannabis 2012” – see the press release here.

Essentially the police are admitting that despite a concerted effort on their part to crack down on commercial cannabis farms they are finding ever more.

The problem profile, which is the third to be published since 2008, shows an increasing number of farms being detected; 7,865 projected for 2011/12 compared with 6,866 in 2009/10 when the last problem profile was published.

In true sycophantic style the BBC reported this without critical analysis and allowed the police airtime – even on respected news programmes like The Today Programme – to give their interpretation of developments, but we’ve come to expect that.

Given the high priority the police have been to trying to close down cannabis farms over the past 5 or 6 years it’s not looking too good at all:

The number of cannabis production offences continues to rise with 16,464 offences projected for 2011/12 up from 14,982 offences recorded in 2010/11

Not only that, but as always with this sort of thing, the nature of the farms is changing.

•There is a shift back to smaller residential or domestic premises as opposed to large-scale commercial and industrial property
•There is an emergence of the “multiple site” model whereby a large number of people are employed to manage small scale factories across multiple residential areas

Prohibition is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling, as this all demonstrates yet again, it simply doesn’t work. Speaking from another planet, ACPO lead on cannabis cultivation Allan Gibson said:

“Commercial cannabis cultivation continues to pose a significant risk to the UK. Increasing numbers of organised crime groups are diverting into this area of criminality but we are determined to continue to disrupt such networks and reduce the harm caused by drugs.

“This profile provides a detailed analysis of the current threat from commercial cultivation of cannabis and the work undertaken by law enforcement agencies to combat the threat. It provides a framework to facilitate future planning and decision-making for preventative, legislative and enforcement activity to make the UK a hostile environment for cannabis cultivators.”

The problem of course is the police are trying to fight the motor of capitalism, the laws of supply and demand. That is the first indication that perhaps they are just a little on the thick side if they think that all the repression in the world could hope to defeat this primal motivational force. There is money to be made, this means there will always be people willing to have a go at making that money and so there will always be cannabis cultivation.

Another indication that the police are stupid comes with this observation:

Intelligence suggests the purchase of seeds and equipment from local hydroponics and head shops is on the increase. This may result in an increase in small-scale cultivations feeding social supply

Which means that the police aren’t differentiating between criminal gangs running a business and hobby growers.

What makes the police appear really, totally and utterly brain-dead stupid is because, apparently, they don’t seem to understand that the reason the trade is gifted to organised crime in this way is because of the regime they are bringing about. It is because the police would take out anyone who is willing to be responsible and accountable for producing cannabis that the whole trade is gifted to criminals.

Let’s set a few things straight: Firstly there are essentially two types of grower. On the one hand is the enthusiast who takers a pride in his hobby, on the other is the sort of outfit motivated by easy money with little or no interest in the product beyond the dosh it produces. We’ll use two terms to distinguish these two types: Hobby grows and Commercial grows. A large proportion (most?) of commercial grows are run by organised criminal gangs.

The police are right to warn about criminal commercial cannabis cultivation. More often than not these farms are highly dangerous in terms of fire hazards, exploitative in terms of coercions and violence and feed into other forms of organised crime and even terrorist networks. The only interest they have in the product is to produce a high turn-over of something that looks good and so fetches a high price.

Hobby grows on the other hand are not any of these things and what the police are seeing with their “intelligence” is in large part an increase in the number of people growing their own with the intention of avoiding the very same criminal supply networks the police are so concerned about.

Hobby growers take a pride in the product they produce, they do so in their own homes and so have a direct interest in health and safety when it comes to electricity and fire hazards.

In short, hobby growers are not the problem – other that the fact they produce cannabis which the police try to prevent. Hence the police deliberately fail to distinguish between commercial grows and hobby grows when presenting information like this. Of course hobby growers are easy to detect and easy to take out because they don’t fight back, so busting hobby growers keeps the arrest rates high and makes the figures look good. All it does though is to keep the trade in the hands of the people the police claim to be fighting. Busting hobby growers not only doesn’t deal with the problem the police are highlighting, it actually makes it worse.

As a sidenote, the term “hobby grower” as used here also includes people who grow cannabis for medical use.

This whole situation has its roots in the wider war on drugs. In days gone by there wasn’t a home grow industry in the UK, we used to source cannabis from producer countries – mostly North Africa. But the police closed that supply down which created the home grow industry. Largish sized grow ops popped up to satisfy demand and the police targeted them and put them out of business. So the industry was gifted to the sort of people who can protect themselves, who will put up a  fight if the police come for them.

In short, the police have created the problem they are now warning about. They really should be aware of this cause and effect situation, if they are not then they are truly stupid, dumb beyond belief.

Of course the police aren’t stupid, what they are is an arm of the government and so they can be trusted to present their case  in a  way that supports government policy. So they lie. The sort of lie they come out with is a lie by omission, but that is still a lie which means they can’t be trusted to present the situation as it really is. Of course if the police were to tell the truth it would undermine the prohibition policy utterly, so they don’t. Likewise if the BBC were to ask some probing questions when stuff like this comes up on news programmes the charade would also come crashing down. Dream on, it isn’t going to happen, the corruption that drives prohibition comes right from the top of the British establishment,

If this were as far as it went things would be bad enough, but this madness goes further.

On Friday Newcastle university announced it was working with the police to develop new surveillance techniques to help int he fight against cannabis cultivation.

To launch the new initiative, a two-day conference is being held in Newcastle from today which will bring together individuals and organisations who have a key role to play in combating the problem of cannabis cultivation including the Home Office, ACPO, regional fire and police services and energy companies.

None of which of course begins to deal with the cause of the problem, which is prohibition. What it’s likely to lead to is more public money being poured into another form of mass surveillance in an attempt to underpin a failed strategy.

There is only one way to deal with this problem, which is to allow some form of regulated legal commercial trade, failing that at least take the hobby growers out of the picture by allowing some form of non-commercial supply. Allowing a legitimate supply side for cannabis would solve the problem of criminal cannabis farms overnight, ever-increasing repression doesn’t stand a hope in hell.

Footnote: On the same day this ACPO press release was issued, police in Essex issued a warning about contaminated cocaine. According to the BBC

The warning to people in Essex was issued after an 18-year-old needed specialist heart treatment and another man was taken into intensive care.

Essex Police said both had taken cocaine and warned that dangerous batches could be in circulation.

The advice from the police?

“Regular drug users are reminded not to source substances from unknown suppliers while others are advised to refrain from ingesting illegal drugs.”

Yet again of course the BBC report didn’t highlight the fact that this problem is the direct result (indeed the aim of) the prohibition policy. The government and police have caused this warning to be needed. Prohibition not only creates crime, it kills.



UKCIA is a cannabis law reform site dedicated to ending the prohibition of cannabis. As an illegal drug, cannabis is not a controlled substance - it varies greatly in strength and purity, it's sold by unaccountable people from unknown venues with no over sight by the authorities. There is no recourse to the law for users and the most vulnerable are therefore placed at the greatest risk. There can be no measures such as age limits on sales and no way to properly monitor or study the trade, let alone introduce proper regulation. Cannabis must be legalised, as an illegal substance it is very dangerous to the users and society at large.

6 thoughts on “Cannabis cultivation: Are the police really that stupid?

  1. The thing that I don’t quite understand is why are they surprised to be finding more cannabis farms when they claim they’re looking harder for them? Surely that was the point in the first place – to get more “busts”. Obviously it’s irrelevant how hard they try, stopping a river with your hands is never going to work, no matter how well you place you fingers. Yet I can’t figure out why they ain’t jumping on this as evidence of their performance? It’s almost like they know that, despite stopping some drugs making it to the street, end users are still finding their fix.

  2. Its beyond my comprehension how the police back the policies. Unfortunately i have had a few interactions with the force and all they say is were not paid to think/have an opinion. Sadly a quick look at the entrance exam shows why there are so many police who seem er…..a bit dumb, they are making changes as i think they have realised what has been created. Solicitors/barristers/probation is where you hear opinions/analysis and nearly to man (in my experience) they want the laws on cannabis/drugs changed but they just accept it and carry on. I recently exchanged e mails with Tim Hollis from ACPO about the report, i was not as cutting as Derek but gave an opinion and he didnt like it, they cannot accept its making things worse, they need to feel they are helping. I have to admit it must be hard being told your making things worse for societies/individuals, its like a doctor who only ever makes people more ill!

  3. Every police Station in the UK is a registered corporation. The purpose of every corporation is to make a profit. This is why they don’t want to solve this issue. They get funding from the government to perpetuate this charade and continue to criminalise the situation in order to gain more funding to combat it. A perpetual cycle to justify their existence in this field.

    Take away their impetus by making it legal and they will wither until they think of some other way to keep their arrest statistics up to make it look like they are needed on the streets of the UK.

    With ALL the technology and international co-operation they have, they still haven’t found one little blonde girl that was abducted but they, somehow, seem to be able to find cannabis growers. They aren’t very good at the job we’re paying them to do. They go after the ones they can get, mostly with the help of informants who’ll sell their friends down the river in order to keep themselves out of doing time, rather than growing a pair of balls and standing up against Police intimidation and threats.

    The plant isn’t the problem. The growers aren’t the problem. The users aren’t the problem.

    The Police and their creation of criminal drug-gangs are the problem.

    Remove them both from the equation and, hey presto, no problem.

    For recreational use, it should be allowed to be peacefully grown, like the tomato plant, in one’s own greenhouse. For production, as we do already actually have in the UK, it should be grown like corn. For Medicine, let CW Pharma spend their money on a consistent product.

    As for the Police, stop spending my money on equipment to use against me.

    And as for drug-gangs… get a job you bums.

  4. I was unable to leave a response on the NHS issue so I’ll leave it here.

    The NHS are making suggestions that smokers in the UK are likely to develop cancer if they smoke Cannabis as many people smoke it mixed with Tobacco.

    A number of people have responded to this issue but non have remarked on the deception of Tobacco causing ailments.

    I’m sorry, but smoking naturally growing Tobacco was never found, nor has yet to, cause any ailments, whether long or short term, when smoked. Fact!

    The problems we have today are caused by the deliberate production chemicals and preservative added in processing. All of which are toxic and carcinogenic.

    I point this out specifically for anyone trying to legalise Cannabis in order to have it put into full commercial production. My fear being, as with the poisoning of Tobacco, they will contaminate Cannabis with their deadly production chemicals and it will end up having the same effect on us as Tobacco. Then, you know for a fact, the prohibitionists will leap to their feet and scream, “Look, we told you so, Cannabis is poisonous.”

    Finally, after more than 10,000 years, we will have someone that dies from Cannabis use.

    Let’s not cry out for commercial production of recreational Cannabis. Let’s cry out for personal home-grown use and keep toxic chemicals out of the equation. No fertilizers, no insecticides/pesticides and no preservatives. Just keep it natural and keep it clean; just as mother nature intended.

  5. I beg to differ with Meeman on some points, though he is mostly dead-on. In my view, it’s not the tobacco, natural or adulterated, it’s the massively advertised Hot Burning Overdose serving technology “$igarette” WHICH IS ITSELF MASSIVELY ADDICTIVE, but– guess what– lucrative to the government which collects $igarette TAXE$.

    The $igarette megamarketing “industry” and H. M. government SHARE an interest in suppressing cannabis on two grounds:

    1. cannabis can help some addicts self-analyze and self-discipline and cure $igarette addiction, but

    2. (worse!) the use of “one-hitters” (25-mg. serving size instead of a 500-mg. joint) can spread over from the enlightened wing of the cannabis user group into the masses of $igarette addicts, so that even if a “smoker” doesn’t quit they can greatly REDUCE DOSAGE, purchase far less tobacco, and there goes ye olde Profit Margin!

    Again congratulations to Derek and Peter Reynolds of CLEAR for instituting for the first time in recorded political history a POLITICAL PLATFORM demanding that instead of suppressing cannabis use the government should suppress the mixture of cannabis with tobacco (TokePure), and applying the concept of Control in the form of encouraging use of miniature pipes (one-hitters) which advantageously restrict dosage to the point that no tobacco need be added (PipeSafe) and no one need be surveillanced and arrested for possession of a rational utensil replacing the pernicious ‘JOINT”. (By the way, Derek, a photo has turned up on the French Wikipedia article, “Sebsi”,

    which is an even clearer depiction of the NARROW one-hitter concept than the Midwakh photo we now have on the How to Smoke Cannabis section of the website. Grab it! Also needed to be brought into the public debate is the fact that instead of buying a 400-pound Volcano (no “-L-” on this US computer), anyone can VAPORIZE with a one-hitter by holding the flame far enough away.)

    Good point by Meeman, that NHS is in error saying cannabis is dangerous because (ignorant) users mix with tobacco.

  6. P. S. A run-down of some of the stupid reasons given for mixing with tobacco in a “joint”:

    1. It helps get hashish burning– DON’T be in a hurry to get it burning, just bathe it in 385F heat (from a flame an inch below the opening of your sebsi, midwakh or kiseru) for 30 seconds, then breathe 30 warm wet W’s in and out of a Lunchspielhaus (BREADBAG). Then return and on a second toke maybe let it burn because you have previously rescued most of the vaporized cannabinoids.

    2. As fallaciously trumpeted in 2009 by Cameron and by (since stroke-disabled, lettuce pray for him) US-Illinois Senator Kirk, modern “skunk” cannabis is TOO STRONG and will make you schizo. So kids scared by that lie mix with tobacco thinking they are “cutting” the weed and making it less dangerous. UH oh.

    3. Some users scared by police crackdowns etc. mix with tobacco so the whole thing will “smell” like tobacco (and the joint looks like a $igarette, easy to throw away or use up in a hurry etc.). When I was in Europe I heard kids say Gauloises “smell like” cannabis so they made it a point to be SEEN sucking on Gauloises. Hooked for life, premature demise down the road… sorry folks that’s all for now. “Good night and good luck” (Ed Morrow died of $igarette cancer age 57).

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