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The Hidden World of Guerrilla Growers

Ever heard of the weed strain called Serious 6? It’s an uplifting kind of buzz. It will energize you. Very good for work, good for listening to music, very good for sex. Really? Absolutely. Perfect plant for the USA. While weed laws are becoming more progressive in many states across the US, unbelievably, cannabis cultivation can still get you some serious prison time in the UK. Fourteen years for selling, but five years just for having some of this in your pocket.

The higher demand and continued criminalization of weed in the UK has proliferated a black market supply chain of pot looming over human deprivation, with cannabis slaves often trafficked from Vietnam and forced to participate in massive grows worth millions in street value against their will. Guerrilla Growers are an online community of cannabis cultivators in the UK, who harvest their weed plants in the wild, hiding in plain sight often on the side of motorways.

The Life of a Guerrilla Grower

During the day, I might be in an office in a suit. Then I get home, I put on my guerrilla growing kit and then I’m running across motorways in the middle of the night. Growing special strains of cannabis that can withstand the UK climate, many have been supplying themselves and their friends with hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of organic weed grown outside in the UK sun for almost a decade, bypassing dealers and without being traced by police. Street value of that is about 500 quid. There’s about two ounces there.

Meeting the Growers

It’s 4:30 in the morning, and I’m waiting in a car park for two guys that call themselves “Guerrilla Growers.” And they’re going to show us their weed crop, which they grow on the side of a motorway. Oh, they’re ringing me now. Hello. Hi. OK, so just follow us, keep your distance. Parking up in a layby. So I’ll radio in as the layby is coming up. They’ve given me a walkie-talkie, which is quite cool, so we can keep in contact. It’s not usual when you go to a motorway, and you meet some guys in a van and you follow them to a field of weed.

OK, we’re coming up to the layby, just on the right. Just park up behind us. They said to keep the noise down, so I’m just going to whisper. We’re walking across a farmer’s field on the way to the crop, which is where they’ve been growing their weed. And we’re not allowed to use lights because obviously we have to be as discreet as possible. It’s literally pitch black. Through a bramble bush, brilliant. And you do this every Friday? We don’t normally come this way. We walked in the darkness through bushes and brambles and along the side of the motorway.

The Risks and Rewards

Director: We’re not going to cross are we? -No. -Thank **** for that. I was literally thinking, “Oh my days, if we have to cross this motorway.” And we finally got here. You can smell it already? Yeah. As soon as I got here, I could smell the potency of the weed. It’s pretty crazy that this kind of thing is here. I’ve never seen anything like it. So, other than you guys, who knows about this plot of land? Only people that need to know. So, my wife, and actually my mum and dad know what I do.

Do they? What do they think? I think they kind of understand that this is something that I need to do. Because the laws do need to change. Do you usually cook on your plot? We do, yeah. Here we go. This is amazing. Why did you decide to start guerrilla growing, and how did you first find out about it? Well, we both really love cannabis. We’ve been smoking it all our lives, and it’s really, really expensive. The street value of cannabis is about £240 per ounce. This plant here, the marijuana seeds for that cost about £6, the soil and nutrients, about another 20 quid, but that will produce about £2,000 worth of cannabis.

Finding the Perfect Spot

So we started by finding an online community of cannabis growers. The plants that they were growing were absolutely phenomenal. We learnt that there are plants now that will finish in the UK climate, and we thought, “Let’s give it a go ourselves.” Got the old Google Maps out, decided to look for a few places, and just went from there. What months of the year do you come out here to look after your plants? That’ll start with us searching the online mapping services to look for locations that we think will be good from above. Then in January, we’ll go out and look at them at ground level. Think we’ve gone the wrong way here. Then from February through to March, we’re prepping the plots. We’ve got netting, we’ve got a chainsaw, spades. And that’s when I start the seedlings off. Crazy, isn’t it, that they’re going to be bigger than us? In April, we plant them out at the plots.


They then go from April all the way through to September, when they start flowering, and then we harvest from the end of September to October. We grow so that we don’t have to go to dealers, and basically fund the black market. The fact that cannabis is illegal means that they’re basically giving that entire industry to criminals. We both love weed. We both really, really enjoy cannabis. We would have to go to a drug dealer and spend money on it. Why would I want to go and spend 20 quid on a bag this big, that tastes like ****, when you can easily grow it outdoors?

The Risks of Guerrilla Growing

Are you not worried about getting caught? It’s definitely a worry, yes. I’ve got a family at home, I’ve got children, and a job. How high do you think the risk is, compared to your average weed grower inside, or dealer? It’s much more risky growing it indoors because you’re in your own property. If you get caught with plants in your own property, you’re looking at a lengthy sentence. The risk involved in this is just so small. Yes, it would be very, very difficult to prove that we planted these plants here. We’re careful about what we leave here. We tidy up and leave no trace, basically. And the land is not our land. The only real time that there’s a worry is once we’ve harvested the plants and we’re taking the harvest back in the vehicle. Then it would be a possession charge. How many years is that? Well, stupidly, five years, just for having some of this in your pocket. That is what they could punish you with.

Choosing the Right Location

How do you find the locations to grow? You need to find somewhere that’s extremely secure, that gets good sun. So when we look up, you can see there’s a lovely skyline. All of these plants are getting about eight hours’ sun per day. How many plots do you have? So this one that you’re sitting in now is one of five. We actually started with six plots this year, but one of them got found. It was right by the Eurostar train track. And it was found by security guards that walk up and down the line. They told British Transport Police, and then that plot was found.

Some of the things that we face are Rippers. People that come along and steal your entire harvest. So we put so much work into a plot throughout the whole year, and sometimes people can steal all of that work. That’s happened to us every year that we’ve grown, we’ve had at least one of our plots found and stolen. You could put 200 plants out and only bring ten home.

Challenges and Risks

How do they find it? You get some that will just stumble across the plants, and then wait until they’re ready, and steal them. Just as they are ready to be harvested. There’s another kind of Ripper that is fully aware of what we do. They’re fully aware of Guerrilla Growers, and they’re kind of chasing us. So we’ll be out there putting plants and plots around, they’ll be out there looking for them and hunting the buds when they’re ready. They’ll come and steal all of your harvest. They’ll have drones out and they’ll be able to spot plots from above. I mean, we’re using drones now, they’re using drones. You see that? That’s where our vehicles are parked. The farmer has literally just driven his combine harvester across the field, and is now getting out to check out our vehicles. Are you worried that you might get caught? No, I’m worried about how you’re going to get home. Well, luckily, we’ll be able to know– Yes, we’ll be able to see when he’s gone using the drone.

Close Calls and Comparisons

Have you ever had any close shaves with the police? We’ve been pretty lucky apart from a couple of little bits. Yes, it can be quite nervy, having harvested thousands and thousands of pounds’ worth of cannabis, and then have to just walk it all the way up the motorway in your rucksack, get in your car, and drive it all the way home to dry it. It’s a little bit mental, innit? You have to be able to take that risk. How does your weed compare to weed that’s sold by dealers? Well, if you buy something from a dealer, you’ve got absolutely no idea how it was grown. You’ve got no idea what went into it. It may have been sprayed with chemicals. Our weed is completely organic. We only use organic materials to grow it. We take control of our own consumption. We know what’s going into our body. Also this cannabis, because it’s grown under the sun, it has a much broader range of cannabinoids. So it’s not just stacked high with THC, like some of the stuff that you get on the street now. It’s got CBD in it as well, which balances out the effect of the THC so it’s not such a strong high.

The Future of Guerrilla Growing

Will you continue to do this forever, growing weed in this way? Sometimes it’s not just about the growing, it’s about getting out in the open. Excitement. It might be dangerous running across motorways, but it gets the old adrenaline pumping, don’t it? One of the problems with buying weed is people don’t know where it comes from. It could be sprayed with something, there could be human trafficking involved, there could be a lot of deprivation along the way before it actually gets to you. With these guys, when they grow it themselves, it’s natural, they know exactly where it comes from, and it kind of feels like they’re not really harming anyone.

What I’m really hoping is that everybody now can see that this plant grows really well in this country. And that everyone that really wants to smoke cannabis and that doesn’t want to go to the black market will go out and do what we’re doing, And this will spread and it will spread, and they’ll get more and more and more plots and plants out there, and it will be impossible to stop. We don’t think that we’ll be doing this forever. I just really hope that the law will change and I can do it in my back garden.

Read More: Navigating Pain Management with Marijuana Seeds in End-of-Life Care

Read More: The Risks of Using Cannabis Daily

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