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Cannabis was reclassified from a class C to a class B drug in 2009. Dealers caught selling the drug can face up to 14 years in prison.
Possession of the drug can lead to anything from an £80 fine up to five years imprisonment.
As police across the region pledge a crackdown on cannabis growers in the North West, forces have released a list of tell-tale signs that a farm may be in operation.
- Strange smells and sounds
- Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times
- Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots, fertiliser, fans or industrial lighting
- Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed
- Heat from an adjoining property
Lancashire Police have discovered a "substantial" number of cannabis plants at a house in Ormskirk.
Police forces across our region have launched a crackdown on those who grow and sell the drug. They warn that the last few years have seen a big increase in small so-called cannabis farms springing up in our region - many run from rented properties in the heart of otherwise respectable areas.
In the last three years, police have found:
- 5,120 cannabis factories in the North West
- 345,000 cannabis plants.
- All that has a street value of £140 million
A huge crackdown on people growing cannabis has been launched across the North West.
The total number of cannabis plants seized by police across the North West has increased over the last three years.
The regions stats:
- Cultivation offences of 10 or more plants up by 16% in Greater Manchester
- 1,214 arrests on suspicion of growing cannabis in Merseyside in last three years
- 485 cannabis farms in Lancashire alone between October 2010 and December 2011
Latest ITV News reports
Merseyside Police made 11 arrests and seized nearly 1,200 cannabis plants on the first day of a month long crackdown on cannabis growing.
Police have promised to weed out cannabis farms after more than 5,000 were discovered in north-west England.