For those desperate to experience recreational drug use without saving up their pocket money, a plot of earth covered in distinctive green plants has become a field of dreams
Teenager after teenager from all over Yorkshire have gone onto the land near Raincliffe Woods, outside Scarborough, fondly thinking it is producing an illegal cash crop of marijuana.
Those whose ambitions include peddling the substance rather than smoking it have even been spotted touting bags of it around to those who cannot be bothered to dig.
It's only when they roll the "cannabis" into a cigarette and take their first puff that the youngsters, mainly aged 15 or 16, realise they are going nowhere. The field contains nothing more potent than hemp, being grown quite legally for the building and clothing industry. The hemp leaves being cultivated by The Springdale Group, based near Driffield, look similar to those on a marijuana plant. Production director Simon Meakin said: "People are risking prosecution for no reason at all.
"They are completely wasting their time stealing the resin because there is no narcotics in it. If you smoked the whole field all you would end up with is a sore throat and a bad cough." Usually hemp is allowed to grow up to 10ft tall before being harvested and processed for uses such as cosmetics, building insulation, high quality textiles, and animal bedding – but this crop is disappearing by the bin bag full.
Cannabis users say the rumour that drugs were being grown in the field had spread across Yorkshire. One said: "A group of us travelled over from Bradford, after a friend of a friend told us about it. I feel a right fool now knowing that we drove all that way for a plant which makes hand cream."
Inspector Keith Froggatt, of Scarborough Police, said: "We are aware that people are attempting to pass the hemp around town. If people are offered it we would like them to get in touch."