Cannabis factory raided every 72 hours in the Black Country
A cannabis factory is raided in the Black Country every three days - with almost £80 million of the Class B drug seized in the past five years.
West Midlands Police has raided 571 cannabis factories since April 2014, with the number of set-ups increasing each year.
The raids have recovered a huge haul of cannabis with an eye-watering street value of £79,000,000.
And the street value of the average plant has more than doubled over the past 12 months, rising from £450 to £1,000.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, has called for more funding to tackle drug-dealing in the region.
He told the Express & Star: "We know dealing with the impact of drugs costs the taxpayer £1.4 billion in total in our region every year.
"I would always welcome additional funding to tackle the scourge of drugs in the West Midlands."
Cannabis was upgraded from Class C to Class B by the UK government in 2009, meaning harsher prison sentences were brought in.
However, laws on cannabis have become softer in the West and other parts of the world, with Canada legalising the drug alongside 11 US states.
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Mr Jamieson continued: "In regards to the legalisation of any drug a sensible national debate should take place first which examines all the evidence and helps us establish how we can save lives and reduce costs for the taxpayer."
Speaking about illegal drugs in general, he added: "I have produced a hard hitting report which sets out eight recommendations which can all be achieved without changing the law.
"These include working with the health service to roll out heroin assisted treatment, testing drugs at festivals to save lives and providing officers with life saving overdose antidotes so they can prevent deaths on our streets."
The figures on cannabis growing in the Black Country was revealed through a Freedom Of Information request by the Express & Star.
The findings revealed that in 2018, West Midlands Police began valuing the average cannabis plant at £1,000, up from £450 previously.
It meant that the valuation of the cannabis has sky-rocketed in the past year.
In 2016/17, a total of 78 factories were found, with a total value of £8,807,400, and in 2017/18, a total of 108 factories were found with a combined value of £17,452,750.
However in 2018/2019, 168 factories were discovered but the value rocketed to £33,961,000.
More cannabis factories were also raided in the Black Country last year than any other year since 2014.
In 2014/15, 88 factories were found with a value of £10,163,700 and in 2015/16, 129 factories were found with a value of £8,883,900.
West Midlands Police has a dedicated squad, called the Cannabis Disposal Team, which tracks down cannabis factories.
The force was approached for comment.