KOCHI: Even as drug menace is rising in the city, frequent seizures of ganja plants in the city have baffled enforcement agencies.
Last month, police raided an automobile workshop in North Paravoor and recovered 13 ganja plants grown in three grow bags. The plants were 26 cm tall. It seems the enforcement agencies – police and excise – have to not only keep a tab on the flow of drugs from other states but also keep an eye on people growing marijuana plants in their backyards.
As per excise data, last year alone as many as 111 ganja plants were recovered from various parts of the district. In 2022, they had seized 51 plants. A senior excise officer said that there was a rise in the seizure of ganja plants in 2023.
“In many cases, the accused grew ganja plants inside their houses. They watered and nurtured the plants so well for their self-use and for selling them to their friends. These cases are very difficult to detect as ganja plants are grown inside the house or at places where no one has access. We rely on informers to detect such cases. Interestingly, most people cannot recognise the ganja plant even if they come across one,” he said.
Last year excise spotted a ganja plant in a garden maintained between the pillars of Kochi Metro in Palarivattom. The plant had grown as high as 130cm among other flower plants in the garden. People who were maintaining the garden were clueless about the ganja plant as they failed to recognise it.
“In most cases wherein marijuana plants are found in public places, they grow from seeds left over by people after abusing ganja. With proper water and sunlight, these seeds turn into saplings,” the officer said.
However, in most of the cases, the plant is grown in places with less human contact. In September last year, police recovered three ganja plants from the second floor of an old unoccupied building. Police reached the place following a tip-off by a local resident.
“The plants were grown by someone. We had information that the place was frequented by anti-social elements. However, after the news of the seizure spread, drug abusers kept away from the place fearing enforcement agencies,” a police officer in Mattancherry said.
In 2018, police arrested a woman who grew five ganja plants on the rooftop of her house in Kaloor. The arrested woman had told her family members that she was growing a medicinal plant. Police came to know about the plant after neighbours raised suspicion about drug peddling taking place in their locality.
Rise in seizure of ganja
As per excise data, last year alone as many as 111 ganja plants were recovered from various parts of the district. In 2022, they had seized 51 plants. A senior excise officer said that there was a rise in the seizure of ganja plants in 2023. In many cases, the accused grew ganja plants inside their houses