THE surge in cannabis factories -- or 'growhouses' -- led to a massive rise in the number of offences covering the cultivation and manufacture of drugs last year.
New figures, published by the Central Statistics Office yesterday, showed that those offences almost doubled in 2010, up by 97pc from 273 to 538. In the final quarter of the year the number jumped by 101pc, from 75 to 151.
Possession of drugs for sale or supply also went up by 4pc, from 4,029 to 4,175.
However, as the focus switched to homegrown factories, the importation of drugs dropped by 37pc, from 46 to 29 offences.
Offences in the overall drugs category fell by 9pc on the year and 9.6pc on the final quarter, compared with the corresponding period in 2009.
Justice Minister Brendan Smith said the detections were evidence of the success of continuing garda operations against the producers and suppliers of substances, which were so harmful to the individual and the community.