Police bust record studio cannabis ring

Stockholm police have busted a network of cannabis growers. One of the suspects is a record producer who cultivated the plants in his studio.

Police raided a series of addresses in the Stockholm area a month ago after an extended surveillance operation. They found three large-scale cannabis plantations, with a quantity of the illicit drug with a street value of one million kronor ($140,000), Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet reports.

“We have noticed how nervous the suspects have been. We have been watching them from cars, for example, and seen how they have gone in and out of doors to mislead us. They have been changing phones regularly,” said Ulf Sundström at Stockholm police to the newspaper.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the raids. One of them owns a record company, and in a concealed room behind his studio police found four tents filled with cannabis plants.

The amount of cannabis seized equates to about 10 kilogrammes when dried. The lower limit for serious drugs offences in Sweden is 2.5 kilogrammes.

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Pregnant pot smokers can damage kids’ brains

An expectant mother's use of cannabis during pregnancy can prevent a child from forming certain connections in the brain while growing in the womb, a Sweden-based researcher has revealed.

Pregnant pot smokers can damage kids' brains
A close-up of a cannabis plant. File photo: Mista Stagga Lee/Flickr

"Despite the present climate regarding cannabis use, our research shows that women should avoid cannabis exposure during pregnancy," Professor Tibor Harkany of Karolinska Institute near Stockholm told The Local. "Using cannabis is directly detrimental to the foetus."

The Institute's Professor Tibor Harkany was part of a global team of scientists looking into what effects consuming cannabis during pregnancy had on the unborn child. They found that the drug is "particularly powerful" in altering how nerve cells form connections, "potentially limiting the amount of information the affected brain can process".

An increasing number of children suffer from the consequences of maternal drug exposure during pregnancy, and cannabis is one of the most frequently used substances, Karolinska researchers explained. 

Using mice and human brain tissue, the study's aim was to "decipher the molecular basis of how the major psychoactive component from cannabis called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC affects brain development of the unborn foetus."

The results were clear: consuming cannabis during pregnancy results in defective development of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that orchestrates higher cognitive functions and helps people form memories.

Harkany warned that even casual, recreational use can result in subtle damage that can significantly increase the risk of delayed neuropsychiatric diseases.

"While heavy cannabis use can bring about actual physical changes in the brain, even lower doses have an effect by intruding into the brain's normal growth processes," he said.

He stressed that it was irrelevant whether the cannabis consumption was a lifestyle choice or for medicinal purposes, cautioning that expectant mothers who use medical marijuana should undergo a "very clear medical risk assessment" about whether to continue using the drug.

Second-hand pot smoke should also be avoided, Harkany said, adding that he hopes the research can help "change how we look at cannabis", a drug he agreed was more dangerous than many people think.

In addition to researchers from Sweden and Austria, researchers from the US, Germany, Finland and the UK took part in the study.