The Money Shot – Sky-high energy costs and combustible rhubarb

Cannabis factory Image: Derbyshire Constabulary
Marjorie had wondered why Bernard was spending so much time in his potting shed (Photo: Derbyshire Constabulary)
“If you’re going to build a draw farm, you’re playing with fire" Eggsy, Goldie Lookin' Chain rapper
  • | by Kristian Dando

What’s making your energy bills so expensive? Well, according to Ofgem, the energy industry watchdog, farmers cultivating whopping amounts of mind-bending street drug cannabis are adding £7 to everyone’s bill every year. Ye gods!

While electricity is something that’s quite difficult to steal – you can’t exactly just slip it under your jumper, after all – it seems that loads of aspiring Howard Marks types have been tapping into the grid to grow the drug, beloved of the likes of B-Real out of Cypress Hill, Snoop ‘Doggy’ Dogg and Cheech and Chong.

Considering the vast amount of power required to keep a drug farm operational – around 30 times that of a bog-standard terraced house – it’s not surprising that farmers bypass the energy companies altogether. After all, one of the primary ways police are alerted to weed farms is by suspiciously high electricity bills.

If you've ever fallen foul of lousy customer service or a wallet-jiggering bill from one of the 'big six', you probably won't begrudge somebody getting one over on an energy firm. But DIY wiring jobs conducted by cannabis farmers are (as you’d imagine) a bit shonky. This means that grow operations often catch fire, which isn’t good news for neighbours or buy-to-let landlords, who’ll often find that their property's walls have knocked through and wiring left in a state by the farmers.

In fact, back in 2011, insurer Aviva reported a 30% increase in ganja-related home insurance claims, which are often thrown out like rancid old bong water. Insurers trot out a variety of reasons for turning claims down - from landlords not taking sufficient care of their property to the house being used for ‘commercial’ purposes.

We got on the blower to Eggsy, a key member of Goldie Lookin’ Chain - the Newport rap crew who’ve been known to drop the odd reference to ‘the chronic’ into their rhymes – to get the, er, score….

“If you’re going to build a draw farm, you’re playing with fire,” said Eggsy. “It’s a shame we live in a society in which this sort of thing has to happen because the government can’t regulate it properly. Cannabis is seen as just something that teenagers get high off, but there are loads of other benefits, like those for cancer patients and MS sufferers. It’s just a shame that it’s got to be grown by some bloke in a shed. It’s a dangerous game because it’s been pushed underground."

The ’21 Ounces’ hitmaker continued: “One of the weirdest things that I’ve ever seen was after a show. This guy who was a barrister came up to me and showed me a picture of this cannabis farm he was involved with, in this massive warehouse. He was a smart, well-to-do guy, not some fella in a tie-dye t-shirt, and was totally open about it. It was a real eye-opener. It just goes to show that it’s everywhere.”

The GLC’s Rosetta Stoned Phrasebook app and new single 'Baneswell Express' are both out now on iTunes.

SHORT CHANGE – MONEY NEWS IN BRIEF

Schoolboy titters abound as a massive windfarm part-owned by Dong Energy opened in the Thames Estuary.

SSC, the perennially on-sale soft furnishings emporium government think tank, has advised that buy-to-let landlords should be banned from buying new build properties.

Research from this very parish has found that 73% of UK owners have a shed, summerhouse or outbuilding, with an average contents value of £988. Fancy that!

The cost of an annual pet insurance policy has shot up to £223 over the past five years, according to the Daily Mail.

Cash Lady ad chanteuse Kerry Katona has gone bankrupt again – just as a crackdown on payday loan advertising was announced by the FCA, which will be regulating the industry as of next year.

ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK

Get the inside-story on the bloke who’s just taken over the top job at the Bank of England.

Lawnmower racing! Icelandic Formula Offroad!  Hardcore drifting! Chris Pollitt rounded up six alternative motorsports worthy of your attention.

Fancy making a bit extra money this summer? Well, Dave Jenkins has got a few suggestions of how to do it.

To get yourself geared up for the final test of the Lions series, check out Graham Thomas’s ace insight into the logistics of the tour, direct from the camp.

AND FINALLY

An exploding jar of rhubarb chutney has devastated a pensioner’s flat in Henley.

The jar of delicious homemade preserve – a gift from a friend - detonated in the fridge of 66 year old Margaret Goodwin’s, lifting the celling off her kitchen after gas had built up inside the container.

"The noise was absolutely deafening, even in my bedroom, and when I went to investigate, I wasn't sure at first what had happened. We don't have gas in the building but it was obvious something out of the ordinary had happened. I was quite shaken up. You wouldn't think a little jar of rhubarb chutney could cause so much devastation,” said a shaken Margaret.

Subsequently, it’s thought that copies of Mrs Beeton's Cookbook are now being pulled from the shops across the country, lest they fall into ‘the wrong hands’.

Join us NEXT WEEK for another THRILLING installment of THE MONEY SHOT.