Nationwide demand for high-potency marijuana has turned Florida into a top producer of hydroponic weed, and hundreds of people are turning their homes into lucrative grow houses, reports the Los Angeles Times. The illegal drug nurseries are hidden everywhere from million-dollar homes to run-down apartments, putting unsuspecting neighbors in serious danger, police said. Some grow houses are discovered only after explosions or fires.
Last year, more grow houses were seized in Florida than in any other state, despite a drop in overall numbers, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said. Florida law enforcement agencies raided 818 houses; the next highest was California, with 791. The heart of the industry is in South Florida, where police have burned more than 1,000 plants this year in undercover stings. Growers are rewiring homes to steal electricity from utility lines to avoid suspiciously high electric bills, police said. The indoor nurseries use 1,000-watt light bulbs to help speed up plant cycles and run air conditioning constantly to cool the hot lights.