How not to get busted and if you do get busted how not to get busted too seriously.
All growers should be aware, despite the ready availability of growth systems and seeds and despite the fact that so many people are doing it that penalties on conviction for growing cannabis can be severe, and prison is a very real possibility.
In 2012 new sentencing guidelines were introduced which at the time of writing (April 2012) have yet to be tested. It looks, however, like small scale grows where there is no evidence of supply and no other complicating issues should result in no more than a small community service order or even a discharge (although that still involves a criminal record for a period). Only time will tell how this new arrangement will work in practice.
Medical use can now be used as a mitigating factor again.
Anyone growing more than a handful of plants is likely to be prosecuted for intent to supply. Although some may escape with a fine or community service, 6 months to 2 years imprisonment is common in cases of social supply, or even simple 'production'.
Following the new guidelines what happens should be much less of a postcode lottery, but again, only time will tell for sure.
Keep the number of plants low - around four or so - is the best advice.
So what are the dangers to be aware of?
Most growers are busted as a result of informants, these might include small-scale dealers (or not so small-scale), who may see successful growers as a threat to their profitability. Talking to anyone about a grow-room is a risk. Word gets around.
There is much concern about police seizing grow companies mailing lists, so most do not keep them anymore. However intelligence about grow-shop customers is gathered by various other means without any information being provided directly by the shop. Such means may include:
- Telephone records (may include bugging of conversations)
- urveillance of retail premises, noting car registrations of customers
- Information held by courier companies where goods are delivered
- redit card/switch records
Helicopters / heat cameras
Police helicopters fitted with infra-red imaging equipment are used by a number of police forces. When these are not chasing car theives, grow-rooms in attics or similar areas show up like a beacon to the heat-sensitive cameras. Suspicious premises may have their electricity records checked, or an informal 'visit' may take place, in order to determine whether there are any telltale aromas, before a warrant is applied for. Several tropical fush keepers and owners of central heating systems have had their doors kicked down by mistake.
It might be worth looking at the new options of LED or other "cold light" systems to avoid this problem, such systems also use a lot less electricity than HPS lights.
The smell of cannabis is distinctive and the smells of hybrids can be very powerful. If you are living with the system you will become accustomed to the smell, but a visitor would notice it and most police officers would recognise it. Even with extractors and venting, any visit by police (e.g. door to door enquiries, burglaries etc) may result in search and seizure. As cultivation of plants takes several months, the risks of detection are much greater than you think.
A number of grow-rooms are discovered by accident. If a person is arrested on another charge, police have the power to search the home address without a warrant under s18 PACE. A positive drugs search, or arrest for theft or other criminal offences may lead to discovery.
Regular visitors with statutory rights of access to property include employees of utility companies to read meters, TV licensing, child-care social workers and a few others. Whether or not there is any official policy regarding reporting suspected growers to the police (e.g. where electricity consumption is excessive), individual visitors or meter readers, like any member of the public, can telephone various hotlines to report their suspicions.
Not so much of a problem now everyone uses digital cameras but photo-processing firms often reported people with pictures of cannabis use among their photos in for development. Do be aware that digital photos have the date encoded into the file so don't take your grow room pictures anywhere to be printed.
Yes, this is real police state stuff, but if that isn't enough there also:
A recent problem has shown iteself in some areas. A grow room with perhaps half a dozen plants may well be the most valuable possession you own in terms of money and it could be a tempting target for someone wanting a fast buck. Keep the existance of your grow room a secret - and not just from the police.