Activity Not all farms are inhabited by the grower so watch out for signs that there is no one actually living there: unkempt front gardens, or if your neighbour never leaves out any bin bags on collection day.
Good neighbourliness If the grower is in residence then it can go the opposite way. Perhaps the most surprising tell for having a grower next door might be their over-the-top neighbourliness as they overcompensate in their efforts not to annoy you or make you suspicious as to what they’re up to. As one grower told me: “I’m the nicest, most law-abiding citizen on my street, because the last thing I ever want is to give someone a reason to want to call the police to complain about me.”
Heat Those lights also give off a lot of heat, so the old theory was that the house growing cannabis in the loft would be the one with no snow on the roof in winter. But nowadays growers use internal tents, that isolate a lot of the heat. This makes farms harder for police to spot using their infra-red cameras.
But you may not be the only person trying to spot a cannabis farm on your street. The sinister side to these booming businesses is that they have become lucrative targets for harder and more violent criminals looking to rob them. These people are constantly on the look out for farms within our communities, which in turn exposes the rest of us to potential violence. What’s the solution? The dealers and criminals I spoke with all said that legalisation would put them out of business.
Conor Woodman’s film Exposure: Britain’s Booming Cannabis Business is on ITV on 16 October at 11.05pm
The latest Independent Drug Monitoring Unit report suggests there are now as many as half a million people growing cannabis in the UK, which equates to roughly one on every street. So how can you spot the cannabis farm next door to you?
I n the course of making a film about Britain’s cannabis industry, I have learned a lot about how to spot a cannabis farm. I have been schooled by policemen who raid them, gangsters who rob them and growers who set them up and produce more than 80% of the cannabis smoked in the UK today.
Light Growers can’t get away from the fact that internal farming requires a lot of it: 2,000 watts running 12 hours a day in a small bedroom looks a lot like the sun, so look out for windows that are constantly blacked out to cover that up. Cannabis farms in spare rooms will have the tell-tale sign of curtains that never open.
Neighbours in Fontainebleau who endured a “24-hour skunk smell” wafting from a backyard filled with legal tree-like cannabis plants last year, are fearing a repeat this growing season.
“But this one is certainly concerning to neighbours,” Kaschak said. “It’s affecting their quality of life with the smells.”
“I might as well get a pet skunk.”
Standing next to a flowering cannabis bud, the smell would easily be a Level 7, Mr. McGinley said.
A Level 4, he said, is the equivalent of a neighbor’s freshly cut grass. “It could still be a nuisance, but it wouldn’t drive you away from your front porch,” Mr. McGinley said.
“If someone is saying, ‘Is it really that bad?’ I’ll go find a bunch of skunks and every evening I’ll put them outside your window,” Mr. Wondolowski said. “It’s just brutal.”
“Just because you like bacon doesn’t mean you want to live next to a pig farm,” said Lynda Hopkins, a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, whose office has been inundated with complaints about the smell.
Ever-Bloom in Carpinteria is one of a number of marijuana businesses that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to mitigate the stink. Two previous systems failed, but the current one, modeled on devices used to mask the smell of garbage dumps, sprays a curtain of vapor around the perimeter of the greenhouses. The vapor, which is made up of essential oils, gives off a menthol smell resembling Bengay.
After nearly one year of recreational sales in California, much of the cannabis industry remains underground. Stung by taxes and voluminous paperwork, only around 5 percent of marijuana farmers in the state have licenses, according to Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, a marijuana advocacy group. Sales of legal cannabis are expected to exceed $3 billion this year, only slightly higher than medical marijuana sales from last year. Tax revenues have been lower than expected, and only about one-fifth of California cities allow sales of recreational cannabis. The dream of a fully regulated market seems years off.
CARPINTERIA, Calif. — They call it fresh skunk, the odor cloud or sometimes just the stink.
The Nasal Ranger is in use in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, but California counties and cities are still struggling with the notion that smells are subjective.
The smell from commercial cannabis farms, which brings to mind a mixture of rotting lemons and sulfur, is nothing like the wafting cloud that might hover over a Phish show, pot farm detractors say.