Could you spot a cannabis farm?

Cannabis Plants

Every day the media features stories of cannabis farms being discovered and busted.

“Huge cannabis farm with 600 plants discovered at disused pub”

“Cops seize £700k of cannabis in massive series of busts”

Would you be able to tell if a house or building in your neighbourhood is being used to grow cannabis?

Here are the key things to look out for:

1. Strong sickly smells

Most cannabis grows are discovered by passers-by or keen-nosed residents catching a whiff of the drug’s familiar smell. A cannabis crop takes about three months to grow and in the final weeks, the cannabis plants stink.

2. Windows are constantly covered

Does the building have the windows covered all the time? It might make it look like the building is unoccupied, but having windows blocked up with panelling or sheeting would suggest there’s something they don’t want you to see. This could be a sign that there are many budding cannabis plants inside soaking up bright artificial light.

3. High levels of security

Growers live in constant fear that their home grown cannabis farms will be discovered by police or landlords. If there are padlocks on the gates, massive grilles and double and triple locks on the doors, that should raise eyebrows, especially if the street is relatively safe. On bigger, high value cannabis farms, bars on the windows and even CCTV cameras can be evident.

4. High levels of condensation

From the inside, landlords might notice damp on the walls or peeling wallpaper, while from the outside a neighbour might spot condensation on the windows, even when it’s not the depths of winter. The condensation may well be due to inside having been turned into a makeshift greenhouse. For the best cannabis plant growth, cannabis needs an atmosphere similar to a greenhouse, and this can cause a lot of condensation.

5. Lots of visitors and at unsociable hours

Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times might be a sign that there’s something going on. One thing to watch for is lots of new faces coming knocking.

6. Electricity bills

The lights, dehumidifiers, hydroponic systems and heaters take a lot of electricity. Many farms have been found where drugs gangs have hacked into the electricity wires before the meter to that individual house, and so bypassed having to pay for the electricity. If you are a landlord who gets a copy of the bill, has it dropped or gone up suddenly?

7. Snow covered roof – or not?

Cannabis factories produce a lot of heat, which can cause tell-tale signs, especially in winter. When it snows, the roofs of cannabis farms can be obvious as the snow melts, meaning it is probably the only house on the street without a snow covered roof.

8. Bright lights day and night

It’s strange for anyone to need unusually bright lights on 24 hours a day. Cannabis needs light to grow, so watch out for homes with bright lighting at all times of the day and night. Lights will often be on a timer switch, coming on in the middle of the night.

9. Constant noise from ventilation

If you can hear the constant noise of a fan, at all times of the day or night, chances are it could be acting as ventilation for the cannabis grow.