Recreational drug use is on the rise in Estonia. According to results from wastewater surveys, cocaine use has gone up the most in recent years, while the use of cannabis has seen the smallest increase. Despite the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) discovering and shutting down another cannabis farm early this year, it remains the most commonly used recreational drug in Estonia.
At the beginning of February, police in Rõuge Municipality, Võru County discovered a purpose-built cannabis plantation, the only one of its kind in Estonia.
"It was built on three floors. One above ground, where there were living quarters, and two floors underground. Both the cultivation and all the technology, including automated watering systems and the remote generator were underground. From the outside, you would not have been able to tell that it was a cannabis farm," said head of the criminal bureau of the Northern Prefecture Urmet Tambre.
Around €800,000 had been invested in setting up the farm. During the raid, somewhere in the region of 250 plants were seized, from which the ten suspects involved had hoped to earn more than €3 million a year.
"Some are suspected of growing cannabis, others are suspected of trafficking large quantities of the drug, or both. There also those suspected of aiding and abetting in these activities," said District Prosecutor Liis Vainola.
Although a few large cannabis farms and as many as a dozen smaller ones are discovered in Estonia each year, cannabis remains the most widely used drug in the country.
According to the Estonian National Institute for Health Development (TAI), amphetamines and cocaine, the use of which has soared in recent years, share second place.
"Cocaine has perhaps become cheaper over the years, and its purity has increased. This is why it has become such a popular drug. It is also often available to young people," said TAI researcher Katri Abel-Ollo.
According to Urmet Tambre, more people are getting involved in selling narcotics.
"In the old days this business was only for criminals, so to speak. However, nowadays, people who are completely unknown to the police, are the first to order substances and they then hope to get in on the action and make some money. This has made the situation a bit more complicated," said Tambre.
Editor: Michael Cole