Skip to comments.Marijuana 'grow houses' booming (CANUCK STONER ALERT)
Posted on 11/29/2002 11:03:18 AM PST by Sparta
Grow houses, such as this residence raided in January on Inuvik Crescent in Kanata, are often dangerous firetraps because the growers bypass hydro meters to obtain the massive amounts of electricity to power the heat lamps and other paraphernalia to surreptitiously grow the plants.
Homegrown marijuana has blossomed into a huge industry that collects billions of dollars annually, officials say.
Police say there are at least 50,000 houses in Canada that are now used exclusively to grow marijuana, ranging from new homes worth as much as $600,000 in downtown Vancouver to more modest residences sprinkled through the suburban streets of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
The law enforcement, hydro and real estate industries -- conceding they are losing the battle against "this present and clear danger" -- came to Parliament Hill yesterday to call for an end to lax criminal sanctions against growers.
"This is a community safety issue," said David Griffin, executive director of the Canadian Police Association. "What this means to the public is theft of hydro, your insurance rates are affected and not the least of our concerns is the drug trafficking that is going on in our communities."
Police provided a detailed picture of the "grow houses," which they say are typically set up in suburban homes on the outskirts of Canada's largest cities.
What started as a West Coast phenomenon a decade ago spread across the Prairies to Central Canada about two years ago, and now the houses are starting to crop up in the Atlantic region.
"They are everywhere," said Staff Sgt. Marc Pinault of Ottawa, the RCMP's new national co-ordinator of marijuana grow operations.
The growers do not normally live on the premises, but some hire decoy families to either live in the homes or drop by often enough to keep police and neighbours at bay. The homes are often equipped with TVs and lights programmed to come on daily. The lawns are cut and snow is removed regularly.
But there are clues that something is amiss, police said. The windows and curtains are always closed. The smell can be pungent. Growers often smash large holes in the concrete foundation to route underground cables.
The hydro industry says consumers are paying the price because growers illegally tap into the power supply for the massive quantities of electricity they need to operate high-voltage lamps and maintain hothouse temperatures, draining the system of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Another main concern is that the operations release chemical toxins and fumes and the houses are a fire hazard, with their often-overloaded heating and wiring systems.
The insurance industry says the fire risk could lead to a general rate increase.
The grow operations now bring in billions of dollars in profit annually. Police say 95 per cent of them are run by criminal gangs, who smuggle their marijuana to the U.S. for sale.
In Ontario, it is estimated that residential growing operations are a $1-billion-a-year business. There are about 10,000 grow houses in the Toronto area alone, officials say.
British Columbia remains the country's marijuana-growing capital, where the annual business is estimated to reap up to $6 billion.
The business is not confined to rundown rental properties. Growers are increasingly buying homes, and in some cases entire blocks are devoted to the lucrative business.
Police say they are particularly worried about children who live in the homes, which they say are death traps. In a national sweep last week, in which $73 million worth of plants was seized, authorities also found 43 children aged four months to 17 years.
Officials complained yesterday that when growers are caught, it is common for judges to impose fines or conditional sentences served at home instead of jail terms.
Growers, who can easily each take in $1 million in profit annually, see the penalties simply as the cost of doing business.
"Right now criminals are thumbing their nose," Dan McTeague, a Liberal MP from the Toronto-area constituency of Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge, said yesterday.
Solicitor General Wayne Easter conceded in the House of Commons that "we do need to do more" to fight the problem.
So how many billion dollars of U.S. money is going to Canada? I think if I were a Canadian economist, I'd say we change nothing, too!
P.S. Hey Sparta, I like the keywords, but that would be gAnga, not gOnga.
Why not? Pure oxygen is toxic, so it must be a toxin. I've seen it argued here that mj must be toxic, because it's intoxicating, so I think we have the logical groundwork already laid.
He had the crawl space dug out under his house for headroom, topsoil brought in, grow lights, even water lines for irrigation.
Electricity wasn't an issue --- he only grew enough for his own use and therefore his lights compared to maybe one extra major appliance.
I don't know about toxicity, but the smell that permeated his whole house was unmistakeable. He wasn't fooling anyone with a nose.
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