Although the cannabis laws in the Netherlands are quite liberal compared to most nations of the world, the possession of more than five grams of dried plant material and cultivating more than five plants at home, remain illegal. Dutch police are finding creative ways to use the cold weather to track down large-scale, illegal grow operations.
Large-scale cannabis cultivation operations often require greater amounts of electricity and produce more heat than what would emanate from a home without growing plants. As a result of the heat, the snow on the roof of one such operation melted in a peculiar pattern as police in Utrecht were raiding the home. In this particular raid, authorities discovered 500 plants worth an estimated €50,000 (about $56,000).
This snow-melting pattern inspired the authorities to post a photo of the home on Twitter to alert citizens to watch out for similar situations because it could be the sign of another illegal cultivation site. In the twitter post, the police requested that concerned citizens report suspicious locations to authorities.
This alternative investigation tactic is not the only out-of-the-box method being used by authorities. Police in the United Kingdom are also finding creative measures to be successful when searching for illegal cannabis cultivation sites.
The West Midlands Police in England used heat sensitive cameras, which can sense increased heat sources thousands of miles away, to find an operation in one of the top floors of the Nechells’ South Tower in Birmingham during a helicopter search. The photo below shows how the thermal camera found the operation. The window that appears to be glowing was housing 143 growing plants.
Authorities in Ireland are also using more creative tactics. They handed out scratch-and-sniff cards, supposedly producing the scent of growing cannabis, to Irish citizens in order to encourage people to report buildings that smelled similarly in hopes of finding illegal cannabis cultivation sites.
These scratch-n-sniff cards were the reason police found a marijuana grow operation just 15 miles from Parliament.