For an area that is home to the Bank of England and The London Stock Exchange, and which serves as the corporate headquarters of a lot of financial firms, London’s financial district is always bubbling with activities. However, the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures imposed by the government had brought all activities to a halt.
With the shut down of business activities in the area, it was the chance for another to grow in its stead, which turned out to be a less satisfactory one – the illegal cultivation of cannabis. With less pollution in the air, people in the area said the smell of cannabis became overwhelming.
Soon, the authorities started investigating. That investigation bore fruits as the police said they had discovered what they termed the first cannabis factory in the city. Located in the basement of a non-residential area, the place had the necessary wired lighting and ventilation tubes needed for the scheme to succeed. The search by the City of London Police unraveled 826 plants.
Andy Spooner, the detective inspector in charge of the investigation, said the illegal scheme succeeded up to that point because the perpetrators took advantage of the lull in activities within the district occasioned by the pandemic. The UK government had ordered new national lockdown measures due to a surge in coronavirus infections in the country. Employees were instructed to work from home, thus emptying the streets of London and elsewhere.
The police were quite surprised with their find. For an area like this, law enforcement was used to fraud cases or any other white-collar crime. But this was a drug bust and the police said they never expected it. Meanwhile, two suspects have already been arrested in connection with the cannabis farm.
Growing, selling, or using cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in the UK. Those caught face up to 14 years in prison, a fine, or both.
There have been calls by some advocacy groups in the country for the legalization of cannabis, with such groups touting the medicinal properties inherent in the plant. However, the farthest the government has gone is legalizing the prescription of marijuana by doctors. The National Health Service approved the use of cannabis-based medicines in 2019.
In a move that could alter the cannabis industry, a United Nations commission had urged the reclassification of marijuana for medicinal purposes back in December. This move would expand the frontiers of marijuana research and medical use all over the world.