Police incinerate a record £90m of drugs this year – with cannabis edibles becoming a popular new trend
Around £90m of drugs have been incinerated this year – a record amount for Nottinghamshire Police.
The Archive and Exhibits department - which test most of the drugs that are seized by the force - says “cannabis is still the number one recreational drug in Notts.”
Dealers have also moved into new areas to evade arrest by injecting or lacing (THC) found in cannabis into cookies, cakes, chocolates and sweets, even seaside rock.
Some dealers have also manufactured their own packaging including 'Zoot Pastels' and ‘Dorweedos’ which look just like a popular brand of crisps.
Officers are concerned these drugs could be marketed to young people and are actively clamping down on those who peddle this product.
These products have also been tested in the lab, with some coming back with traces of pesticides, detergents, hair spray and small traces of rat poison.
Officer David Richardson said: “This year alone we have incinerated up to £90m of drugs and that is the largest amount the force has ever done.
“These drugs are from recent jobs or historic jobs over the last two years, which have been stored while an investigation reaches its conclusion.
“There is a current trend where they are putting cannabis, THC, into cookies, cakes, chocolates, and sweets but they have been mixed with other nasty things such as fly spray and one test came back with traces of rat poison.
“We are getting what we describe as cannabis edibles on a weekly basis. People have started doing their own and are more aware of how to do it through social media.
“We had one case where a woman from Nottinghamshire was making cannabis cakes for her own circle of friends.
“The cannabis market is evolving and those who sell this drug are trying to get one foot ahead of us.
“They think officers will assume they are just carrying chocolate bars or crisps, but on closer inspection we know that is not the case.
“The problem, and concern for us as a force is innocent people get involved and children could be attracted to it. We don’t want that to happen.”
In 2016, the force said the combined street value of all the cannabis seized was around £6m. This has now jumped up to well over £20m a year.
On average, 300 to 500 drug items will pass through the department a week, which also includes heroin, crack cocaine, amphetamine, cocaine, cannabis, cannabis edibles and cannabis plants.
The team says cocaine is still a popular recreational drug in Nottinghamshire, but the purity is very poor, and it is mixed with many cutting agents which are found once examined at the lab.
Officer Richardson says the number of seizures is down to the excellent work by officers from across the force.
He added: “The whole of Nottinghamshire Police should be proud of their efforts. It has been a collaborative effort with all departments coming together."
The department has also trained more than 170 officers in field testing so they can test seized drugs straight away, which leads to a quicker charge.
He added: “Cannabis is not getting worse - we are just getting better at finding the drugs. These teams are squeezing the drugs market and are massively proactive.
“We thought we might experience a dip during the pandemic, but we have not had that. We have just got busier.
“When people say ‘why don’t you just legalise cannabis, they don’t see the adverse effect it has on families, the local community, mental health, and the massive burden it has on the struggling NHS.
“Also, the money that criminals generate from drugs it just fuels more criminal activity.”
Sergeant Rob Spry, who leads the archive and exhibits department, said: “Cannabis seizures forms a massive part of our work.
“Drugs has a massive impact on our communities. It is linked to serious organised crime, violence, and modern slavery, with cannabis gardeners brought to Nottingham from overseas and forced to work in horrendous conditions.
“Cannabis grows in residential properties are also extremely dangerous with electricity bypassed making it a fire hazard.
“Drug dealers are making significant amounts of money from their illegal behaviour, and it is not fair on the law-abiding members of our community and therefore the force will continue to pursue those involved in this criminality.”