How the Bedroom Tax Led to the Rise of Grandmas Growing Weed

Article by Vice

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The British weed industry has some unlikely new players taking charge of supply: green-fingered grandmothers.

A combination of easy money, the introduction of the bedroom tax and the fact there’s a very low chance they’ll be locked up for their crimes has led to the rise of “groppers”, grannies with a crop, one of whom we met in the cannabis episode of our new UK drugs series High Society.

The story began when cannabis was downgraded to a class C drug in 2001 and the number of people growing weed in the UK sky-rocketed. It was reclassified to B in 2009, of course, but that didn’t make a huge amount of difference: people had realised how easy, lucrative and relatively low risk planting a couple of crops could be.

Three years ago, in fact, the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit estimated there were 504,000 people growing crops in Britain, and between 2014 and 2015 a total of 54,711 plants were seized by West Midlands Police alone, earning the area the title of the UK’s “cannabis capital”. It was also in the Midlands that the concept of the “gropper” emerged: women above the age of 50 growing multiple cannabis crops because they’re the last people, bar maybe children, the police would suspect.

Irish-born widow Margaret, who has three grandchildren and lives in the Midlands, first got into growing when her friend took the rap for her son’s crop.

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