Hsinchu City police announced they had uncovered the largest indoor cannabis cultivation operation in history, and the Minister of Justice said that decriminalization of marijuana in Taiwan is “absolutely not possible” at a press conference today, May 7.
The record marijuana haul, grown in a factory building, included 1,540 live cannabis plants, 7 kilograms of finished product, and 880 marijuana cigarettes. Police estimate the value of the haul at close to NT$500 million.
Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) attended the press conference and said that police across Taiwan have repeatedly cracked cases of marijuana cultivation, and it has come to the police’s attention that there a people teaching others how to grow marijuana on the Internet, along with messages advocating the decriminalization of marijuana.
Tsai solemnly stated that based on national conditions, the government absolutely cannot decriminalize marijuana, and will continue to persist in policing the law. Marijuana is classified as a category 2 illicit drug, cultivation of cannabis is a felony, and Internet messages will continue to be traced, because they are suspected of inciting others to commit crimes, Tsai said.
The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Chief of Police, Mayor of Hsinchu City, and Chief Prosecutor of the Hsinchu District Prosecutor’s Office also attended the press conference.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) praised neighbors who had alerted police after noticing strange odors emanating from the factory.
Hsinchu City police began an investigation after residents in the neighborhood reported suspicious odors. Police uncovered a growing operation in a house in Xiangshan District. Three people were arrested on March 22. As the investigation continued another two people were arrested, with the “bankroller” of the operation finally arrested on April 15.
The press conference was held today to announce the complete collapse of the criminal growing operation, a police spokesperson said.
Taiwan’s top cop, National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) said that so far this year, there have been 28 marijuana cultivation operations uncovered, with 7,255 marijuana plants seized.
Today’s reported bust follows a previous record grow-op in Hsinchu County last month.
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