Four people in Miaoli County have been detained for allegedly growing cannabis plants and producing marijuana cookies and oil, police said yesterday.

After questioning and bail hearings, three men were placed in judicial detention, while a woman surnamed Su (蘇) was released on NT$50,000 bail, police said.

The four face illegal drug charges under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).

Police seized 220 cannabis plants and 55 seedlings in raids of two homes in Jhunan Township (竹南).

“It was a surprise to find marijuana cookies at the site, which are rarely seen in Taiwan,” Criminal Investigation Bureau Sixth Investigation Corps squad leader Wang Chia-huang (王嘉華) said.

The operation was allegedly led by a man surnamed Hsu (許), 36, who in 2015 finished serving prison time for a cannabis possession conviction, Wang said.

Hsu last year allegedly got two of his male friends and Su to grow cannabis plants, Wang added.

Police also found cannabis seeds, ground cannabis leaves, fertilizers, humidifiers, lighting and watering devices, and baking equipment, Wang said.

The finished products were wrapped and allegedly sold for NT$800 per cookie, although Hsu allegedly said that the 25 confiscated cookies were for their own personal consumption, not for sale, police said.

The suspects allegedly learned how to grow the plants and make cannabis products online, as well as how to chemically extract cannabis oil and concentrated cannabis powder, Wang said.

“It is quite unusual that they learned how to extract cannabinoids such as CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], which are fat-soluble, to mix with butter and chocolate to bake into cookies,” Wang said. “When eating the cookies, the cannabinoids are slowly digested and metabolized by the liver. The process lasts four to eight hours, and can have a stronger effect than smoking cannabis.”

Cannabis and derived products are a Category 2 illegal narcotic in Taiwan, Wang said, adding that people found to be involved in the production or sale of cannabis products can be sentenced to seven years to life if convicted.