To the teenagers who found it, the 35 acres must have seemed like the original field of dreams.
Deepest Surrey is hardly the place you’d expect to find a cannabis plantation, but here were thousands of plants, laid out in rows, and up to 5ft tall. There were no guard dogs, no fences and no security staff.
Word quickly spread among the teenagers in Send, near Guildford, that there was this field where you could go and help yourself to handfuls of Cannabis sativa.
But then — as is often the case with dreams — reality set in. Locals complained about the numbers of teenagers being drawn to the site, some clambering through gardens to get to the field. “I was absolutely horrified when my son took me there,” said one woman, who asked not to be named. “Small children as young as 10 have been playing in that field. Nobody knows about it except the teenagers — all the teenage fraternity know about it.”
There was further disillusionment when the police became involved, stopping the teenagers and making them give up their pocketfuls of leaves, which they were planning to take home, dry out and smoke. “As with any theft, including crops, we will takesteps to stop people who steal other people’s property,” said a spokeswoman for Surrey Police.
And then, after all that, the dream was shattered for ever with the revelation that the stuff was not even worth smoking. The cannabis at Cricket Hill Lane was actually industrial hemp, designed to be used as lining for door panels of BMW cars.
It would have been impossible to get stoned smoking it: while illegal cannabis contains around 10 per cent of the intoxicant delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), regulations laid down by the Home Office ensure the hemp at Send contains no more than 0.3per cent.
A spokesmen for RMC Aggregates, which is growing the hemp, said: “ Hemp is a traditional crop that today has unfortunate connections. However, the harvest from Send is capable of nothing more harmful than being incorporated into car interiors.”
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