While the population was being told to stay in their homes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, police around the country were using heat-seeking drones in order to locate cannabis grows, leading to a 25 percent increase in seizures during 2020 compared to the previous year.
As reported by iNews following a freedom of information request, 38 police forces carried out at least 9,145 cannabis seizures in 2020 compared with 7,240 in 2019.
As well as using state-of-the-art thermal imaging technology, police relied on tip-offs from members of the public in locating home grows. Yet, despite this increase in seizures, it’s safe to say that neither supply nor demand of home-grown cannabis were much affected.
Police in England and Wales also carried out 695,009 stop and searches under section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in the year to March 2021. This is an increase of 24 percent on the previous year.
Speaking to iNews, Dr Laura Garius, the policy lead at Release, said: “In the midst of a pandemic, the police focused their resources on policing drug activity.
“People buying cannabis are more likely to report an increase in their cannabis use over the pandemic, rather than a decrease in their use. This may indeed be indicative of an increase in domestic cultivation. However, police statistics are reflective of policing activity and priorities, rather than being an accurate reflection of market activity.”
While there are no restrictions on buying cannabis seeds or growing equipment, it is illegal to grow, possess, distribute or sell cannabis unless individuals or companies hold a Home Office licence.