Cannabis smell reported in towns and villages across Fenland is being investigated

Environmental health officers are investigating a cannabis smell reported across the Fens

Environmental health officers are investigating a cannabis smell reported across the Fens - Credit: Archant

A mystery cannabis smell that has been reported wafting across the Fens and Norfolk in the last week is being investigated.

An Environmental Health spokesman from Fenland District Council said: “We have received a number of complaints about the smell of cannabis. The issue is not limited to Fenland, with the odour being reported across Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

“Along with Environmental Health teams from neighbouring authorities, we are continuing to investigate the source of the smell, including looking at sites licenced to grow the plant by the Home Office.”

Debate has raged about what could be behind the mysterious smell.

British Sugar is investigating if the work they are doing at their Wissington site, near Downham Market, could be the source of the smell.

The company confirmed it has launched an investigation into whether their site could be responsible and if so, whether the smell could have spread over such a large area.

A spokesperson for British Sugar said: “We’ve been aware in recent days of the concerns about unusual smells across a wide area of Norfolk.

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“As part of the harvesting process at our horticultural operations there can be an intense smell for intermittent periods of time.

“We have been extremely mindful of this when looking at the various processes on site to minimise any impact on the local community.

“At British Sugar we’re currently investigating the recent reports to understand the distance any smells could travel. We will do everything we can to reduce the intensity of any smell from our operations and any impact that this could cause.”

A spokesperson for weather monitoring company Weatherquest said: “We have, in the past, had industrial smells coming from the continent that were noticeable in Norfolk so it’s possible for a smell to travel far if the wind is strong enough.”

The British Sugar plant has become the centre of various theories because of a deal struck in October last year between Cornerways, owner of British Sugar, and the British drugs company, GW Pharmaceuticals.

This deal meant that the Wissington plant would cease tomato production and instead turn to cultivating cannabis plants that will be used as a key ingredient in a new prescription medicine, which aims to treat a number of rare childhood epilepsy disorders.

The treatment, named Epidiolex, is still in an experimental phase but it is reported to have shown very positive results and could be the first drug of its kind to be approved in America by the US Food and Drug Administration.

An investigation is unlikely to conclusively solve the mystery of what is behind the unusual smell that has swept the county as the cause may be impossible to establish with absolute certainty.

Descriptions have also varied between towns and villages, which indicates that there may not be one single source to be found.

Cultivation of cannabis can only legally take place under a Home Office licence issued in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

A Freedom of Information request to the Home Office by the UK Cannabis Social Club shows that the number of Low THC (industrial hemp) and High THC licences granted in 2014 is as follows:

Low THC – seven.

High THC – five.