IT is the most used drug in the UK - and it is being grown here in Calderdale.
Police have shut down several cannabis factories over the last few months, but say members of the public can help them tackle more.
The district is by no means a hot spot for cannabis growth. Between June 1, 2010 and June 1, 2011 there were 84 cannabis production offences in Calderdale - just nine per cent of the total of 930 offences for the whole force.
But officers are still asking residents to be on the look out for signs a building near them could be being used to grow the drug.
It could a house, flat or business. Nationally, there have been reports of industrial buildings, cinemas, nightclubs, hotels, and even banks being used as cannabis factories.
In May, 74 cannabis plants were seized from the former Friendly pub in Boothtown, Halifax.
Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police’s drugs-co-ordinator, said: “Cannabis still remains the most used illicit drug in the UK.
“What we are seeing is both individuals and organised crime gangs taking risks by growing cannabis.”
He stressed that information from the public is acted on, and appealed for people to report any of the tell-tale signs.
He said there could be a strong smell coming from the building, a lot of condensation on the windows or people coming and going at all hours of the day and night.
Landlords should also beware. If people come to them offering to pay six months rent in advance, they make sure they ask for ID and check that the ID is an original, not a photocopy.
He warned that cannabis-growing can damage the fabric of properties.
“They will often knock holes in internal walls and significantly tamper with the electricity supply,” he said. “The property can suffer from mould.”
And he said the damage is often not caused by insurance.
Anyone who sells gardening goods should keep an eye out for anyone buying very large amount of equipment. Mr Dent said between six and 12 planting pots is likely to be a bona fide gardener, but between 100 and 200 could be a cannabis farmer.
“We’re relying on the public to tell us when they see these tell-tale signs,” he said.
We’re not asking them to follow through, just tell us and we will act on that information.
“Cannabis is, always has been and will continue to be harmful to health.”
He said people involved with growing cannabis can be linked to illegal immigration and people trafficking.
Sometimes people will be brought into country and ordered to oversee the grow sites as a way of paying their importation fee.
He says it may be seen as a high-profit activity to get into, but anyone considering it should be warned the police will find them.
“There is a massive market for it because it’s the most used illicit drug in the country and the world and there are high profit margins,” he said.
“They may believe it falls below the police’s radar - it doesn’t.”
Anyone who has suspicions about cannabis growth should call police on 0845 6060606 or Crime Stoppers, where information can be passed on anonymously, on 0800 555111.