Stunned middle class couple raided by police after sniffer dog mistakes common garden plant for cannabis (and so do local yobs who queued at door hoping for a drug deal)

It was an unlikely scene for a drugs raid. When police swooped on the idyllic village home of Chris Vincent and his wife Anne, the couple wondered whether they might have the wrong address. But officers insisted there was no mistake – and demanded access to the couple’s flower beds. Neighbours had reported how streams of local teenagers had been knocking on the couple’s door asking to buy marijuana. And police sniffer dogs had picked up the unmistakeable stench of cannabis coming from the garden. On closer inspection, the police found that the source of the smell was not cannabis but a common evergreen creeper called ‘moss phlox.’ Keen gardener Mrs Vincent, 57, a shopkeeper, had been cultivating the pretty flowering plant for years.  ‘When we bought the house, the plant was already there – but then it grew and grew and grew,’ Mr Vincent, 58, explained. ‘My wife’s a keen gardener. We didn’t know what it was, we just thought it was quite pretty. ‘But local teenagers kept coming to the door saying, “Sorry mate we can smell ganja, you got any?” ‘I’d say no, I haven’t got anything.

They were real hoodies – but also strangely polite, obviously thinking that I was some mean drug dealer.’ The respectable couple even had the same teenager come round three times after ‘he refused to take no for an answer’. ‘It’s happened loads of times over the past couple of years and most recently just a few weeks ago before the cops showed up. ‘It’s unbelievable – I’ve never even smoked a joint in my life.’ Although moss phlox looks nothing like cannabis and grows vivid pink flowers in the spring, the plant gives off a similarly potent aroma. Police swooped on the Vincents’ four-bedroom, detached home in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, three weeks ago after a drug dog ‘went berserk’ on detecting the pungent odour. One neighbour said: ‘Drug cops were crawling up and down the alleyway that borders their house. ‘They were peering over his fence and trying to take cuttings from the plant. ‘A sniffer dog was there too, barking whenever it got close to their garden. ‘It was bizarre – it was like being in a dodgy inner-city estate, not what you expect at all in rural Warwickshire.’

Although the plant is not illegal, police advised Mrs Vincent – who works as a cashier at Nationwide – to get rid of the plant to prevent more unwanted attention from local yobs. The couple have now agreed to dispose of it at the local dump. Mr Vincent added: ‘They asked if we were having any trouble with local kids – and we said yes, we’re always having trouble with them. ‘When the police saw the moss phlox, they knew exactly what it was – apparently an old lady who was growing it nearby got robbed a while back after criminals thought it was actually cannabis. ‘Funnily enough we never really smelt its cannabis aroma before we dug it up, which is when it was really strong. ‘It didn’t look like marijuana, it just looked like a fern with lovely flowers and anyway, we didn’t even really know what cannabis smelt like.’  Warwickshire Police confirmed they had requested Chris remove the plant.
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Stunned middle class couple raided by police after sniffer dog mistakes common garden plant for cannabis (and so do local yobs who queued at door hoping for a drug deal), 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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