Home Grown: Why Cannabis is The New DIY Boom

Home Grown: Why Cannabis is The New DIY Boom
Posted by CN Staff on June 28, 2005 at 09:34:30 PT
By Terry Kirby
Source: Independent UK
United Kingdom -- In countless spare rooms, attics and garages, hundreds of thousands of leafy plants are being lovingly tended, their roots fed by nutrient-rich water, their leaves bathed by hot lamps 24 hours a day.And if the neighbours have a room with the windows blacked out from which emanates a rich, earthy smell, they are probably growing something far more potent than tomatoes.
They are likely to be part of an unprecedented boom in domestic cultivation of cannabis, which is now believed to account for more than half of all the drug consumed in Britain.It is an expansion fuelled by a combination of factors, including the relaxation in the classification of cannabis to a class-C drug, the continuing demand from older, middle-class cannabis consumers who prefer not to become involved with dealers and the easy availability, via the internet, of the seeds and equipment that makes growing easy. But there are also many new commercial growing operations, based in small factory units or warehouses, some of which are now being tracked down by police with the help of power companies, concerned at the illegal use of electricity.Since growing cannabis remains against the law, an accurate picture for the number of people cultivating it, whether for themselves or to sell to others, is hard to come by. But a series of new figures obtained by The Independent suggest that at least a dozen growers or "farms" are now being discovered every week by police. This is coupled with anecdotal evidence from the rapidly expanding and entirely legal industry of companies which supply both cannabis seeds and the hydroponic (water-based) growing equipment, strongly indicate a massive switch to domestic cultivation over the past two years.Professor Mike Hough, professor of criminal policy at King's College London, who co-wrote a report published in April 2003 which predicted that home-grown cannabis would soon account for as much as half of all consumption, said yesterday: "I think these figures suggest that it is truer now that when we wrote that report.''According to the Metropolitan Police, incidents involving domestic production of cannabis have risen from around 230 a year in 2002-03 to 420 last year and 242 so far this year, suggesting that the total for the year in London alone could reach 600. The force said it was concentrating on the "organised criminal networks" responsible for drug abuse.The situation is thought likely to be similar around the country, but official figures are scarce, since many forces - including some large urban ones including the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police - while publicising individual raids involving substantial seizures, do not collate figures centrally. However, Merseyside police were able to disclose that seizures of cannabis plants had almost doubled each year since 2001-02, rising from just 18 in that year to 91 in the year ending March 2005.The number of cautions issued has risen from 458 in 2000 to 750 in 2003, the last year for which figures were available. Convictions rose from 1,500 to 1,890 in the same period. Although the vast majority of cannabis growers remain undetected, police will caution where smaller growers are uncovered and prosecute for supply only where there is direct evidence.An alternative method of assessing the scale of cultivation has now emerged, through the high usage of electricity by larger growers. EDF Energy, which supplies electricity to a large area of the south-west and south-east of England, including London and East Anglia, told The Independent that its investigators, working with police, were discovering an average of more than 40 cannabis "farms" a month, a figure which has risen from just a handful over the past 18 months; this includes people with just a few plants, as well as commercial growers. Earlier this month, British Gas also said it had uncovered an additional 32 "farms" by this method in the first five months of this year. Other power companies admitted the problem exists, but were unable to provide figures.Power investigators take action when there is evidence of tampering with meters or dramatic increases or decreases in consumption. They have now issued advice to employees to identify likely growers - such as curtains permanently drawn or bin bags taped to windows to block out light or humid and damp atmosphere. Police are also believed to be using helicopters equipped with heat-seeking equipment to pinpoint larger farms, which can use dozens of powerful lights.Most agree that such figures only indicate a small proportion of the true extent of cannabis growing. An even better indication can be obtained from the network of companies which supply the home-grown market in an industry which now has a multimillion-pound turnover. Although there are some who still swear by their plot of cannabis plants in their garden or allotment, most domestic growers now chose a hydroponics system because it produces strong plants quickly and reliably."There has been a rapid rise in small-scale cultivation,'' said Brian Biggs, proprietor of Hempstead Hydroponics, based in Watford, which has just started selling a self-contained "growroom" for less than 1,500 - which contains lights, fans, a plant irrigation system and growth media and will produce four to six plants in about 12 weeks. A smaller growing kit would typically cost around 300-350 and would contain a 400-watt light, irrigation and fans. Extra costs include the nutrients and electricity, estimated at around 10 a week. Some users grow three or four crops a year, using either fresh seeds or cuttings.The concept of hydroponics is used extensively by commercial growers and intensive vegetable production in glasshouses. It is based on the principle of growing plants using a medium such as artificial pebbles or granules, with the roots fed by a nutrient-rich, water-based solution. Strong lights are used to encourage growth.Mr Biggs said: "Although we cannot advertise our equipment for illegal purposes, we are aware than 90 per cent of our customers probably use it for growing cannabis, which of course we do not condone."Mr Biggs and others said many of their new customers were older people with families, who preferred to grow their own, buying seeds and equipment over the internet rather than facing the risk of going to dealers. "We get a lot of people coming in with their kids and they tell us that it is the kids have the know-how to grow it for their parents.''A number are also people with health problems, such as multiple sclerosis and migraines, which cannabis is said to alleviate.Despite the increase in cases of electricity theft detected by power companies, Mr Biggs does not believe that relates to most of his customers. "For most of our customers, I suspect the small extra electricity cost doesn't really make it worthwhile. I think that tends to be the larger, commercial-growing operations.''While all hydroponics sellers include disclaimers making it clear that they do not condone illegal use and it is not their responsibility what it is used for, less ambiguity exists over the sale of cannabis seeds, although most are sold under labels such as "For novelty purposes only.''There are now many companies selling dozens of varieties of the seeds at between 9 and 40 a packet, depending on strength and number of seeds. Reading like conventional seed brochures, they extol the virtues of individual plants and the quality of the smoke they produce.Our turnover has doubled in the past year,'' said Steve Kirkby, who runs another site, Cannabis Heaven. "The site is getting around 2,000 hits day and we are selling around 50 packets a week, half of them to UK customers.''Mark Evans, of Everyonedoesit, who says his sales have quadrupled over the past two to three years, added: "A lot of customers settle their bills with their American Express cards. These are the kind of people who may have been smoking for years, but have moved on socially and prefer not to associate with dealers or ask around in pubs.''Professor Hough and bodies such as DrugScope, the country's leading drugs "think-tank", believe there is a good and a bad side to the boom. "If the easy availability of growing equipment makes it possible to isolate people from criminal supply networks, that has to be a good thing,'' said Professor Hough.But there is also concern that consumption of strong cannabis could have health implications, despite the fact that overall levels of consumption remain stable - and may even have dropped slightly among teenagers.Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said that despite the image of cannabis growing as a victimless crime, it was dangerous to ignore the health risks associated with regular smoking: "There is a clear consensus that regular use of strong cannabis can worsen mental health problems among those people who already suffer from them. There is less evidence it can cause such problems. But we must get the harm-reduction message across to people that, if they are going to smoke cannabis, it is better to be sensible and moderate in their use." Note: Most of the cannabis consumed in Britain is now cultivated domestically. Terry Kirby reports on a vibrant cottage industry.Source: Independent (UK)Author:  Terry Kirby Published: June 28, 2005Copyright: 2005 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.Contact: letters Related Articles & Web Sites: Cannabis Heaven One Does It Hempstead Hydroponics Kits Fuel Cannabis Boom Case for Small Home Growers 
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Comment #18 posted by jose melendez on June 29, 2005 at 12:13:25 PT
thanks Celaya! Here's a login for in name: cannabisnews password: password
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Comment #17 posted by Celaya on June 29, 2005 at 10:47:32 PT
Great LTE about the strawman argument of smoked marijuana! I posted it to the NYT Drug Policy Forum here: (free) required.
Jose's Letter To The Editor at the NYT Drug Policy Forum
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Comment #16 posted by jose melendez on June 29, 2005 at 02:25:07 PT
HIA: Flower flavor ought be restrained.
Hemp Industry Association: Buy our overpriced, sterile dehulled bird seeds, but please keep busting flower children!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by b4daylight on June 28, 2005 at 23:00:37 PT
Overgrow the government
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Comment #14 posted by jose melendez on June 28, 2005 at 19:09:36 PT
thirty odd letters published -jm
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Comment #13 posted by mayan on June 28, 2005 at 18:12:46 PT
30 - 0
Go ahead and veto it, Gov. Carcieri. Go ahead and expose yourself as just another pharmaceutical puppet!Thanks for the info,Taylor!
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Comment #12 posted by mayan on June 28, 2005 at 18:09:32 PT
Note: Most of the cannabis consumed in Britain is now cultivated domestically.Does that mean that the Brits no longer support terrorism? Now they just need to kick Blair out onto the street. Just say no to terrorism - grow your own and oust Bush and Blair!THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN... Bush Insider Claim WTC Collapse Bogus Gets 'Huge Response' And Read By Millions Worldwide: Agent: 9/11 a Violent Coup: Critical Review of Morgan Reynolds' Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse? Conspiracy Now Subject of Hollywood Theatrical Performance: Truth Expose: Busters:
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Comment #11 posted by Taylor121 on June 28, 2005 at 17:28:25 PT
Rhode Island Senate Passes Medical marijuana 30-0
Great news! In an unmistakable signal to Congress that the states are demanding
change, the Rhode Island General Assembly today overwhelmingly approved the
Marijuana Policy Project's bill to protect medical marijuana patients from
arrest -- and sent the bill to the governor to sign.The legislature's action is a strong retort to Congress, which two weeks ago
voted down federal protections for medical marijuana patients by 161-264.Gov. Donald Carcieri (R), who now has until July 5 to act on the bill, has
threatened to veto it, despite overwhelming support from the public and the
state's leading medical organizations ... and despite a House vote of 52-10 and
today's Senate vote of 30-0. If the governor vetoes the bill, three-fifths of
each chamber would have vote to override the veto in order for the bill to
become law.Although more than three-fifths of each chamber have already voted for the
legislation, that doesn't guarantee that they would vote to override a veto.
Would you please visit to donate $10 or more today
so that MPP can ensure victory doesn't slip away?MPP has deployed a massive grassroots mobilization that swamped state
legislators' offices with postcards, phone calls, and e-mails from constituents
and blanketed the airwaves with hard-hitting TV ads: We spent $5,000 generating
phone calls from constituents to the governor, $28,000 on TV ads
( urging the governor to let the
bill become law, and $35,000 on lobbyists. (If the Rhode Island bill becomes
law, this will be the least amount of money spent to enact any of the 11 state
medical marijuana laws.) We also obtained endorsements for the bill from the
Rhode Island Medical Society, Rhode Island Nurses Association, and AIDS Project
Rhode Island.Now, with only a few days left, we must keep up the pressure, by generating more
constituent calls to the governor and running more TV ads. Would you please help
us ensure that Rhode Island becomes the 11th medical marijuana state, by
visiting to make your most generous financial
contribution today?A sweeping victory in Rhode Island just days after the U.S. House refused to
protect patients would be a powerful signal to Congress that more and more
states will be pushing back harder and harder until Congress feels obligated to
change federal law. Please help, by visiting to
make a financial contribution today.If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island would be only the third state to enact a
medical marijuana law via the legislative process. Of the 10 states that have
enacted similar laws allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana
with their doctors' approval -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine,
Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington -- all but Hawaii's and
Vermont's laws were enacted through ballot initiatives.Victory is close. Would you help push us past the finish line, by visiting now?Sincerely,
Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.P.S. While we're poised for victory in Rhode Island, the New York Legislature
adjourned for the year on Friday without passing MPP's medical marijuana bill,
despite having the support of the top Republican senator and supermajority
support in the assembly, and despite a statewide poll showing that a full 76% of
New Yorkers support the legislation (including 72% of Republicans). MPP will be
back to fight in New York next year.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by global_warming on June 28, 2005 at 16:16:23 PT
Now The Government,
Has the right to come into a persons home and arrest a person who is dieing,in their bed.How much can the media lie to protect their corporate interest?The devil will stand by the damned,One cannot expect any Grace or Compassion,From those who have either contracted their human souls, or are so stupefied, that their presence or absence will not be noticed.America, where is our Compassion, are we controlled by the fallen ones?The ones who have prostituted their very existence, who live on the death moans of the sick and dieing.Something is very
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Comment #9 posted by potpal on June 28, 2005 at 15:56:56 PT
last year he he
According to the Metropolitan Police, incidents involving domestic production of cannabis have risen from around 230 a year in 2002-03 to *420* last year...Time to grow our way out of prohibition.
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Comment #8 posted by Taylor121 on June 28, 2005 at 15:27:06 PT
RI Senate
PROVIDENCE, R.I. The Senate is scheduled to take up a bill today that would allow the seriously ill to use marijuana for medical purposes.Similar legislation has been approved by the House. The bills would shield from prosecution sick people whose doctors recommend marijuana for pain relief or other therapeutic purposes. Governor Carcieri has threatened to veto the measure, but lawmakers believe they have enough votes for an override. If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island would become the eleventh state to authorize the medical use of marijuana. And it would put the state at odds with federal law. The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted under federal law even if their home states allow use of the drug. should be the House version that was passed. The Senate already passed a fairly similar bill to it by a huge margin (34-2 if I remember correctly). If this bill passes by that margin again today, it should be veto proof.
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Comment #7 posted by Taylor121 on June 28, 2005 at 15:15:00 PT
Spreading the word
As many of you know, it is great to type here and keep each other updated on action alerts and what not, but I just wanted to remind everyone to get out there on the internet that are cannabis neutral and state reality.One way of doing this is participating in all the huge message boards on the internet and engage others in talk about marijuana legalization. Being rude won't get you any followers, but staying calm and rational, calling others on logical fallacies, and staying true to the point could sway others to join us. website has all the largest forums on the internet and many of them have an off topic/political discussion area that you could bring up marijuana legalization. Of course you want to make sure you are participating on other topics so you don't seem like a troll, I just think we need to expand. I'm working on it myself, but choose a message board and try to get our ideas out there. Just my thoughts.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 28, 2005 at 12:27:28 PT
Off Topic
I can barely stand to watch Bush on TV but tonight I am planning on not missing his speech. Maybe we can end this war in Iraq sooner then later.***Bush Tries To Overcome Flagging Support on IraqJune 28, 2005  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush will try to shore up support for the Iraq war with an address to the nation on Tuesday night, telling Americans it is essential to keep fighting to stabilize Iraq despite the prospect of more bloodshed. Bush will deliver his stay-the-course message surrounded by troops at the military base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina -- a backdrop designed to whip up patriotic feelings as the administration tries to cast Iraq as part of the president's broader, and more popular, global war on terrorism.
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Comment #5 posted by taylor121 on June 28, 2005 at 11:00:30 PT
more enforcment..
More enforcement for the win... Looks like those readers think the war can be won with cops.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 28, 2005 at 10:40:53 PT
Thank you. I voted but none of the answers seem very good. 
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on June 28, 2005 at 10:36:09 PT
Poll: West Virginia... folks.
What do you think needs to be done to reduce drug abuse in the Tri-State?  
 More treatment  More enforcement  Earlier intervention  More education
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 28, 2005 at 10:00:26 PT
Max Flowers 
Here are two links. If you find an article post it in a comment like here and then people can read it or I can post it if I think I should. I try to avoid doing many SFC articles because I have to snip the articles and then make a page on my personal site to link to. It is much harder for me to do that way so I'm very selective.Bookmark:
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Comment #1 posted by Max Flowers on June 28, 2005 at 09:48:21 PT
FoM - we missed a Chron article
I don't know how to do the newshawk thing, but there was a story in yesterday's SF Chronicle about a grow house that got busted. It was interesting in that it showed how the people inside got busted (the cops came with a warrant for someone else living there, and even worse, they were stealing electrical power evidently).I looked briefly on the sfgate site but couldn't find it... do they only post front section articles I wonder? The one in question was in a secondary section (Bay Area) I think.
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