Boom in Locally Grown Drugs Cannabis Factories in Germany Growing Like Weeds

Criminals are increasingly cultivating cannabis in Germany to get around stricter border controls. Experts warn that locally produced weed can be four times as potent as conventionally grown drugs.

Hamburg police raiding a cannabis factory last month: Officers discovered 1,200 plants in the backroom of a workshop.

Hamburg police raiding a cannabis factory last month: Officers discovered 1,200 plants in the backroom of a workshop.

The number of cannabis factories in Germany has exploded, drug experts warned in a report released this week.

In the study the International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors the implementation of the United Nations international drug conventions, said cannabis was increasingly being grown in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

According to INCB, the increase in home-grown cannabis is a result of tighter border controls. In the past, illicit drugs were smuggled into Europe from the Caribbean, but less porous borders have forced those in the drug business to set up local cultivating operations.

"Since 2002 in Germany the illegal production of cannabis in professionally set up green houses has increased frighteningly," Carola Lander, a member of the INCB, warned during a presentation of the organization's 2007 report in Berlin on Tuesday.

Increased Potency

The hike in locally grown weed has had a marked effect on the strength of drugs discovered in Germany, as cannabis grown in green houses can be four times as potent as conventionally produced weed, criminal investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia recently said. Increased potency is the result of professional cultivation and gene-manipulated seeds.

Earlier this week the head of a German drugs clinic warned that cannabis users were getting younger and one out of twenty 18 to 24-year-old in Germany needed treatment for a condition arising out of their cannabis consumption. Professor Rainer Thomasius, of the University Hospital in Hamburg's Eppendorf neighborhood, said the average age children first tried cannabis fell from 17 years a decade ago to 15 years today. He added: "In big cities it stands at 14 years, with children who live in difficult circumstances at 12 or 13 years."

According to the INCB report there has been a rise in the use of other drugs as well: cocaine consumption in Europe has increased, as have cocaine parcels sent specifically to Germany. And the use of heroin shows no signs of slowing down, with experts estimating 3.3 million Europeans are addicted to the drug.

Almost all of the heroin flooding the European market comes from Afghanistan, which, despite international efforts to eradicate poppy production, last year produced a record drug harvest, growing 17 per cent more opium. It comes via three routes across Europe -- either through Turkey, Russia or Pakistan, using planes or ships. Though most countries in Western Europe are reporting fewer incidents of seizing heroin shipments, Spain and Germany both reporter more cases in the past year.



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