Police raided an apartment in New Taipei City after receiving an anonymous tip that cannabis was being grown there and said they were questioning its two male residents.
Officials on Saturday said that they found two pots of cannabis plants when they raided the apartment in Sinjhuang District (新莊). They questioned the two men at the place, a 49-year-old surnamed Chen (陳) and a 29-year-old surnamed Hsu (許).
Chen told police he is the owner of the residence and Hsu is a friend who is staying with him.
Chen said he let Hsu move into one of the rooms in his apartment, because Hsu was unemployed and had no money to rent his own place.
Police said they intend to charge the two men with possession of illegal drugs, as cannabis is listed as a Category 2 narcotic as stipulated in the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).
The cannabis plants were allegedly cultivated by Hsu.
Chen said he did not know they were cannabis and Hsu had told him he was growing orchids that he planned to sell to pay the rent.
It was the latest in a spate of recent cannabis raids. Authorities in Taitung County on Wednesday last week said they had uncovered a large-scale cannabis growing operation in a rural area.
Taitung prosecutors said it was among the biggest cannabis productions found in Taiwan, with 794 cannabis plants up to 2m high and an estimated street value of NT$230 million (US$7.45 million) being seized.
Separately, Kaohsiung police last week reported seizing a variety of marijuana products at the home of a 63-year-old US citizen, an English teacher identified only by the surname Cox.
Five cannabis plants and 1.75kg of related products were found, including dried marijuana, hemp cream, cannabis wine and production equipment, with an estimated market value of NT$200,000.
Although Kaohsiung prosecutors asked for Cox to be taken into custody, the local district court released him on bail of NT$100,000.
“Cannabis consumption mainly occurs [in Taiwan] among white-collar workers and, as such is more difficult for police to uncover. From reports, we know that more people are getting into growing cannabis plants,” Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Chief Prosecutor Wang Tien-sheng (王添盛) said.
However, Taiwan’s biggest substance abuse problem is with amphetamine, which has been increasing annually, he said.
A total of 4,708 people were arrested in 2015 for transporting, smuggling or selling amphetamine, with the number increasing to 6,179 people in 2016 and to 9,196 people last year.
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