This week it was a 74-year-old man caught growing 162 cannabis plants in a house in Minto. He was remanded in custody, set to face a major charge and probably a long jail term.
I was sad because he had done nothing worse than a brewery worker, because cannabis is safer than alcohol by any objective measure, and fuels far less social damage than its violence-inducing cousin.
His worst crime may have been simple greed. Or 'ambition' as it's called in the big end of town.
But according to a report in today's SMH, the panic about indoor growing has moved to the sparkies who rig up the grow-rooms, often stealing power from the grid (which presumably the rest of us pay for -- another cost of prohibition).
Police say many of the power systems were built by the same sparky, and a complex plug system and spaghetti loom is pictured (above).
Police reports of the value and amount of the cannabis they confiscate illustrate the stupendous profits made possible by prohibition.
The annual number value of busted plants in NSW is reported as:
- 21,000 plants with a street value of about $64 million
- 53,500 cannabis plants - worth an estimated $160 million growing in drug houses and open-air operations
- and in the average crop-house, 1600 plants a year, with a potential street value of $8 million a year