Hong Kong police busted a marijuana farm, seizing US$1.42 million worth of cannabis and arrested two people on Wednesday in a Yuen Long apartment that was converted into an indoor greenhouse in the northwest New Territories, according to local media reports.
Officers arrived at the 2,000 square foot apartment at noon and discovered a marijuana production line, including growing, drying and packing tools, according to the Apple Daily newspaper.
Around 580 cannabis plants and one kilogram of cannabis buds, worth about HK$11 million (US$1.42 million) in total were found.
A 43-year-old man and a 72-year-old woman, both local, were arrested in the apartment, which had been operating as a greenhouse for about three months, the police said.
Marijuana can be harvested in a month in the greenhouse, they said. Some products may have already entered the market, Sing Tao Daily reported.
The police will continue their investigation to find out whether it is backed by triad groups. In Hong Kong, it is illegal to grow or trade cannabis. The maximum penalty for doing so is imprisonment for 15 years and a fine of HK$100,000, according to the city’s Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
In a report published by the city’s Action Committee Against Narcotics last December, the total number of reported drug abusers in the first three quarters of 2016 dropped by 6% to 6,874 from 7,286 from the same period in 2015. However, the total numbers of reported cannabis abusers rose to 358 from 293.
Heroin, methamphetamine (or “ice”) and ketamine are the three most common types of narcotics used illegally in Hong Kong.
While the government has increased its anti-drug efforts, the Hong Kong Cannabis Association, a non-governmental organization, is pushing for legalization.
In Asia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and Vietnam have the strictest cannabis laws.
In the United States, medical cannabis is allowed by some state, territorial, Indian reservation, and District of Columbia laws, but medical and recreation use is illegal by federal law.
And North Korea appears to be the lone standout on cannabis, which has either no law or it has legislation that is largely unenforced.