Police Issue ‘Scratch and Sniff’ Cards to Help Weed Out Marijuana Growers

Warning: don't try to smoke them.

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Jon Paciaroni / GETTY

Medical grade marijuana in the process of flowering.

Police in England are distributing “scratch and sniff” cards to help members of the public detect the telltale aroma of illicit cannabis farms.

The cards, which replicate the distinct smell of growing marijuana, will be mailed to homes in 13 areas throughout the country, in the hope that they will help people to identify cannabis factories in their communities.

“Many people don’t realize that the empty, run down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm. It’s not just the stereotype of the remote rural set or disused industrial estate unit,” said Andy Bliss, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, in a press release by Crimestoppers, the independent charitable organization which launched the campaign.

(MORE: Marijuana, By Air: Mexican Gangs Use Cannon to Hurl Drugs Across U.S. Border)

Crimestoppers offers a list of clues for spotting cannabis cultivation, including a “strong and sickly sweet smell; visitors at unsociable hours; strong and constant lighting day and night and lots of cables.”

The U.K. saw a 15% growth in cannabis production in 2011-12, according to Crimestoppers, which the group claimed has led to an increase in theft, violence and the use of firearms, as well as an increased risk of fire in residential areas where growers have tampered with electrical supplies. Supplying cannabis in the U.K. can lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

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The Daily Mail notes that a scratch and sniff card scheme has been used in the Netherlands, where bulk cultivation of the plant remains illegal (although personal consumption is widely tolerated). A mail-out of more than 30,000 cards reportedly helped Dutch authorities track down hundreds of cannabis farms.

And although the cards smell of pot, Crimestoppers warns, don’t try to use them to get high. “There is absolutely no trace of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the principal psychoactive element of the cannabis plant, on the scratch and sniff cards,” the group said.

MORE: What Is President Obama’s Problem With Medical Marijuana?

7 comments
Paulpot
Paulpot

Reminds one of the old GDR. Recruiting citizens to spy on each other. Will they get danger money or tax back for good work? And if they get killed or kill someone in the pursuit of information what happens? The police depend on public cooperation but asking them to actively spy for them puts the public at serious risk. Just end this fascist war. Legalize and let the farmers have their age old cash crops back.

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

let the police do their own dirty work! they tryin to create a world of rats?

ChasHolman
ChasHolman

Your tax money at work.. anyone who 'claims' to be fiscally conservative, and then supports this kind of nonsense, is just a menace and doesn't know what they believe in.

AdrianaSmith
AdrianaSmith

How utterly wasteful , to fund something like this when they could have bought food for the hungry with that money....just saying.

StephenCHendrickson
StephenCHendrickson

Meanwhile back on the ranch..WA state is working to develop a plan to license cultivation..

stormcrow
stormcrow

ROFL!  "White Widow" smells nothing like "Pine Tar Kush", that smells nothing like "Lemon Cleaner" that smells nothing like "Grape Ape"! Dudes, there is NO one "marijuana smell"! And what exactly are they "protecting" us from? A cancer cure? ("Pot compound seen as tool against cancer" SFGate)  A more effective Alzheimer's medicine? ("Marijuana May Slow Alzheimer's, WebMD - THC beats the heck out of Aricept) In over 4000 years of medical history, there has never been an overdose fatality from CANNABlS! You can't say that about even common aspirin!
     

MichaelBautistaSmith
MichaelBautistaSmith

What a complete waste of time, money and resources to pursue a harmless plant and the people that use it.