Drug gangs are targeting Dutch farmers in the hope of growing cannabis in their unused barns.

Drug producers are asking agricultural businesses in the south of the Netherlands if they can rent out any empty outbuildings or barns, according to the newspaper NRC. It is claimed that three out of four farmers living in the Hart van Brabant region are receiving enquiries about buildings from people looking for somewhere to grow marijuana.

The Netherlands is well known for cannabis production and last year the police broke up a total of 5,856 marijuana plantations. A significant proportion of the cannabis sold on the streets in Britain arrives in the UK from the Netherlands.

Ryan Palmen, mayor of Hilvarenbeek, told the NRC: “Farmers are being offered up to €150,000 a year for their empty barns. That can be extremely tempting.”

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance in the EU with a market worth an estimated £7.5 billion. One of the reasons that it is so popular in the UK and elsewhere in Europe is that it is produced all over the continent.

Cannabis often produced in UK

Unlike cocaine, which is often smuggled to the UK from South America, cannabis does not generally travel as far making it less likely to be intercepted by the authorities. And while the large, professional cannabis plantations are usually associated with the Netherlands, factories growing the drug exist all over the UK with criminals often using empty homes and buildings.

Organised gangs started shifting the focus from importing cannabis from other countries to growing it themselves in Britain in 2008. And the police search for UK-based cannabis farms with helicopters kitted out with heat-seeking cameras which can help detect the lights and hydroponic equipment often used to grow the drug.

AlphaBiolabs carries out a large number of drug tests for a wide variety of customers to detect whether someone has used cannabis. The fact it is so easily available in the UK means it is one of the drugs which is most commonly tested for.

Our clients range from employers who want to maintain safety in the workplace by ensuring their staff are not abusing drugs to worried parents who suspect their teenage children may be using cannabis.