Pot Plant Street Value

Today I read yet another news item about police raiding a cannabis factory where they seized x number of cannabis plants with an estimated street value of y. I have no idea how they decide the “street value” of a cannabis plant so I thought I should investigate. I did a Google search for police “cannabis plants” “street value” and went through the first 100 of about 11,400 results. I was looking for reports of cannabis factory raids in the UK where the police gave both the number of plants seized and the estimated street value, but I also included some cases where police gave total figures over a certain time period or for a particular operation. Unsurprisingly all the reports were of indoor growing, usually in rented houses. Sometimes the wording was in the form “more than 1,000 plants” – I discounted these reports for not giving a specific figure but that still left me with 47 data points. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so before you get bored here is a chart I made:

Cannabis Factory Busts

As you can see, the most commonly used figure seems to be around £300 per plant. The smallest reported seizure was of 20 plants at a house in Lincoln in August 2007 “with some up to seven feet tall”. Unusually there was an estimate of the quantity of cannabis which they would have produced (about 2.8kg) as well as the so called “street value” which was given as £7,000, or £350 per plant. Towards the other end of the scale, in February 2009 police in Halesowen raided two properties in Claremont Street, finding an estimated 1,350 plants which they valued at about half a million pounds, or £370 per plant. Despite the difference in scale between these raids the claimed value per plant was very similar, but that was not always the case.

In April 2008 the Macclesfield Express reported that police had discovered what was believed to be one of Britain’s largest ever cannabis factories, housing 8,000 plants worth about £500,000 – a bargain at only £62.50 per plant. On the other hand, an article in a glossy magazine called PROPERTYdrum listed a number of raids including one in Telford in June 2010 in which £200,000 worth of cannabis plants were discovered – with a haul of only 200 plants they were apparently worth a whopping £1,000 each. Finally, there was a very recent report on the website of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary which mentioned Operation Viscount, targeting cannabis factories across Avon and Somerset. During this three month operation they claim to have seized 7,100 cannabis plants with an approximate street value of £6.6 million, a hefty £930 per plant.

In reality this is complete nonsense. Young plants are almost worthless because the only people who would be interested are growers, and they get them essentially for free by taking cuttings from a mother plant. Even a mature plant is not going to be worth much unless it is ready to harvest and the grower would not obtain “street value” for the crop because it would be sold wholesale to a distributor. Furthermore, a lot of growers are presumably using the “sea of green” method which packs a large number of plants into a small space at the expense of a low yield per plant. In reality I would be surprised if seized plants were worth more than £30 on average.

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3 responses to “Pot Plant Street Value

  1. Nik Morris

    Here’s something you may like to look at …

    Date 18 January 2011

    Dear ME

    I write in connection with your request for information dated 5th January concerning Operation Viscount.

    Specifically you asked:

    Q1. The operation (viscount) was executed over a four week period and warrants were issued between November 22 and December 17. I’ll have the costs for that period (advertised quite clearly for all the public to see) if that’s possible and you are willing.

    Q2. How do you price cannabis?
    Q3. Do you weigh it wet or dry?
    Q4. Do you weigh the whole plant or just the buds?
    Q5. What price do you “give” per gram, ounce, kilo?

    Your request for information has now been considered and the information asked for is below.

    Q1 – Due to the success of Operation Viscount, this Operation will be carrying on for several more months. As such, the costs of the Operation will be calculated at its conclusion. I have provided a link to our news pages on our website which gives details on when the Operation was extended.

    http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/LocalPages/NewsDetails.aspx?nsid=22121&t=4

    Q2 – Cannabis is prepared to a state ready for street supply by our Forensic providers. Weighing is also conducted to determine the amount of street cannabis that could be supplied by that plant.

    Q3 – Our Forensic providers weigh the cannabis dry.

    Q4 – The flowering buds and the leaf material are weighed once stripped from the plant.

    Q5 – There is no set price as such. Drug prices consistently change and our drug prices are based on various sources of intelligence, which are analysed frequently.

    In addition, the valuation given to plants seized as part of this Operation are deliberately under valued and is based on the evidence supplied from the Forensic examination at the time.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in Avon and Somerset Constabulary and advise that once this Operation has been concluded, we will then hopefully be able to provide you with the costing of this Operation.

    Yours sincerely

    Freedom of Information Officer

    Freedom of Information Officer
    Corporate Information Management Department

  2. Thanks Nik, very interesting – why are they weighing “leaf material” along with the buds? Who buys leaves?

  3. Nik Morris

    I’ll post the overall cost of Viscount if they send it. You can take all the info and make what you will with it. All the best. Nik

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