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
– Sgt Julian West - Skelmersdale Police
“Officers have today discovered a substantial cannabis cultivation in a house which is solely being used for this purpose.
We would take this opportunity to appeal to the public to continue to report suspicious activity or information to stop those involved in the drugs trade."
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.
– Supt Mark Addison Merseyside Police
It's not just happening in and confined to industrial units. It's happening in our communities, it's in peoples bedrooms and lofts. The result of that is its actually bringing that gun crime element into the heart of our communities.
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