UK cops just discovered nearly $3.7 million worth of weed growing in a former bingo hall in South Wales.
Earlier this month, UK energy supplier National Grid notified police that an abandoned building in Barry, South Wales, was consuming an excessive amount of electricity. It didn't take long for cops to discover what was eating up all that energy. Inside the six-story bingo hall, cops found more than 3,000 illegal cannabis plants growing under a huge DIY array of grow lights and fans.
Police valued each individual plant at around £1,000 ($1,224) at current black market prices, bringing the total haul up to over £3 million ($3.67 million). Those plants are worth nothing now, though, as the cops have already destroyed each and every seed, stem, and flower. Investigators are still working to clean the site and remove thousands of pounds worth of growing equipment and fertilizer from the premises.
Cops also discovered several beds, a kitchen, and clothes, suggesting that some of the weed farmers were probably living onsite. No one was around at the time of the bust, though, so cops are still on the hunt for perpetrators.
“Many people think it is 'just a bit of cannabis' but any production of drugs is linked to hidden harm,” the South Wales Police said in a statement reported by Metro. “These large operations are often run by organized crime gangs, who are likely to engage in very serious violence. The electrical requirements to grow this many plants are also really dangerous and can be a huge fire risk, putting neighboring properties, and lives, in danger.”
Of course, British authorities could easily resolve these issues by taking cannabis production away from criminal gangs and placing it into the hands of licensed legal growers. The UK still continues to prohibit recreational pot, and authorities even recently tried to increase the penalties for cannabis crimes. Instead of wasting billions of dollars a year cracking down on illicit dealers, the country could legalize adult-use retail sales – a decision that could boost the UK economy by nearly $1 billion a year.
Prohibition is also ensuring that black market dealers are getting top dollar for their bud. Legally-grown California weed is currently a big seller in the UK, fetching nearly $28 a gram – more than ten times the price it sells for in the US. The profit is so high that drug dealers are now trying to pay underemployed Americans to brazenly fly into the country with hundreds of pounds of Cali weed in their luggage.
And even if they aren't willing to go whole-hog with recreational legalization, UK officials still have another option. The UK Home Office legalized medical cannabis way back in 2018, but officials have made it exceptionally difficult for anyone to find or afford this essential medicine. As a result, as many as 1.4 million Brits are forced to buy black market weed for purely medicinal reasons. By increasing access to medical pot, officials could cut down the demand for black market bud.
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