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Cannabis farm with 4,200 plants discovered near military base

Sep 28, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Taiwanese authorities arrest two suspects working on the illegal grow and six foreign migrant workers hired to care for the plants

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Taiwanese police made a massive cannabis discovery this week when a raid revealed about 4,200 plants not far from a military base in Taoyuan.

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A tip led police to the illegal farming operation next to the army’s 601st Air Calvary Brigade base in northwestern Taiwan on Sept. 20. An unmanned aerial vehicle was used to conduct a flyover of the farm before the raid, Taiwan News reports, citing the Mandarin-language publication Liberty Times.

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The pot was apparently being grown on rented farmlands, according to Focus Taiwan. Beyond the plants, the publication reports the raid also yielded dried cannabis buds and drying equipment, all of which were seized.

  1. It is reported that upon expanding their investigation, police ended up seizing 937 grams of dried cannabis flower, 182 grams of marijuana seeds and 52 live plants. /

    Taiwan beef noodle shop owner busted for selling broth and bud to college students

  2. Two men have been detained by police as the investigation continues. / PHOTO BY MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

    More than 1,600 cannabis plants seized in largest bust in Taiwan’s history

  3. Basketball star Chang Tsung-hsien, also known as Jet Chang, was found to be in possession of a cannabis vape. / Jet Chang Instagram

    Taiwanese basketball star caught with a cannabis vape, faces a maximum of three years in prison

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The recovered plants and pot are being called the largest-ever such seizure in Taiwan, notes ICRT TV.

In June 2021, the justice minister announced the discovery of 1,600-plus cannabis plants, characterized at the time as the island’s largest-ever such discovery, valued at the equivalent of $21.5 million, according to Taipei Times.

Taiwan News reports that the authorities have valued the latest farming operation at NT$600 million ($25.8 million).

Two men, both Taiwanese, were said to have rented 9,699 square meters of farmland in May and recruited six undocumented female migrant workers from Indonesia to help care for the plants. To try to conceal the illegal plants from neighbouring farmers, the two men — though officials think more people could be involved — planted rice, fruits and vegetables on the perimeter of the plot.

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The subterfuge didn’t work, as was the case with an Indian farmer who used a maize crop as a decoy for the cannabis he was cultivating.

For the illegal Taiwan grow-op, the two men arrested are believed to be members of a drug cartel, Focus Taiwan reports. Although the suspects admitted to growing the weed, Taiwan News adds they told police they had not yet started distributing the product.

Prosecutors have reportedly obtained a court order to detain all eight suspects while the police probe continues.

Cannabis illegal in Taiwan, but penalties are being loosened

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Taiwan. The Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act — the stated goal of which is to “prevent the hazards of narcotics and to safeguard the physical and mental health of the public” — notes that cannabis is a category two substance, alongside opium poppy, coca and amphetamines.

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“Persons guilty of possession with intention to sell Category two narcotics shall be punished with a minimum five-year, fixed-term imprisonment and may be fined of no more than 5 million New Taiwan dollars ($215,000),” the Act goes on to note.

“Offenders of manufacturing, transporting or selling Category two narcotics are subject to life imprisonment or a minimum 10-year, fixed-term imprisonment,” and may also be subject to a fine.

Despite the harsh penalties, the legislature passed an amendment this spring to reduce the minimum prison sentence for growing cannabis for personal use to one year and lowered the fine to NT$1 million, according to Taiwan News.

Bud backers hoping to move beyond decriminalization to legalization

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Cannabis activists, for their part, continue to fight for legalization, or at least decriminalization. Mugglehead Magazine reported that in the spring of 2021, the pro-legalization group Green Sensation saw record attendance at its second Cannabis Parade next to the legislature buildings in Taipei City,” attracting 1,500 supporters compared to the about 300 there during the rally in 2019.

And this past spring, just before 4/20, the same group issued a call for cannabis to be decriminalized and accepted for medical use in Taiwan, Focus Taiwan reported at the time. Members also argued that medicinal products with 0.3 per cent THC or less should be legalized.

The Taiwan incident is hardly the first involving cannabis and military personnel. In February, a man connected to the Nigerian Army who was undertaking a development course was pulled over by a highway patrol officer who found 81 parcels of dry cannabis leaves.

Almost a year earlier in December 2021, three U.S. Marines based in Okinawa, Japan were indicted for allegedly trying to smuggle cannabis into the country through the mail.

And a few months before that in June, an unidentified member of the New Zealand military landed in trouble after the tinfoil on his windows attracted attention and he was found to be hiding a weed stash.

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