Evidence of cannabis factory discovered in Essex village

PUBLISHED: 08:05 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 22:02 31 May 2010

PC Dawn Bamford and PCSO Andy Davies collected nine black bags stuffed with cannabis leaves and plants Picture: ALISTAIR NELSON

PC Dawn Bamford and PCSO Andy Davies collected nine black bags stuffed with cannabis leaves and plants Picture: ALISTAIR NELSON

BAGFULS of cannabis leaves and stalks - which could be waste products from a drug factory - were discovered dumped in a Great Chesterford field. The drug stash, which filled nine refuse sacks, was initially reported to officers at Saffron Walden Police St

BAGFULS of cannabis leaves and stalks - which could be waste products from a drug factory - were discovered dumped in a Great Chesterford field.

The drug stash, which filled nine refuse sacks, was initially reported to officers at Saffron Walden Police Station as a fly-tipping incident.

Sgt Mick Ashton said: "Because of the amount of plant remains that have been discovered we believe this is a professional cannabis grower, rather than for someone's personal use."

On Monday morning, a member of public alerted the police to the black bags which had been dumped at the entrance to a field on Park Road. Among the remains were five bags of leaves and stems and a further four bags of soil and fertiliser containers.

"You can smoke the cannabis leaves, but the grower has obviously decided to dump these and just harvest the much stronger and more valuable buds," said Sgt Ashton.

"The amount of plants discovered here could produce thousands of pounds worth of cannabis. It's certainly one of the biggest finds of this type in the area."

The plants, which were starting to decompose in the bags, could have been used to produce skunk which police say has a street value of about £1000 per kilo.

PC Dawn Bamford, who picked up the stash with PCSO Andy Davies, said: "The leaves do have some value in themselves, but because they have been dumped it could indicate that this is waste from a cannabis factory producing skunk.

"We will see if forensics can collect any evidence from the bags and then they will be destroyed."

Because of the dominance of skunk over less potent forms of the drug, in 2009 cannabis was reclassified from a Class C to a Class B drug. Home Office figures show that more than 80 per cent of cannabis available on UK streets is skunk, compared to just 30 per cent in 2002.

Adults caught in possession of cannabis can be arrested and the maximum penalty for producing the drug is 14 years imprisonment.

Sgt Ashton said: "If anyone saw who dumped the bags or has any information about the incident, we would urge them to call Saffron Walden Police Station on 0300 333 4444.

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