Illegal Marijuana Operations On The Rise

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Source: Globe and Mail

    Ontario's homegrown marijuana industry is an expanding multibillion-dollar export business, one that is making gangsters rich as it threatens neighbourhoods, taxpayers and children, police said yesterday.
    The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police released a report on the province's marijuana business. In Green Tide: Indoor Marihuana Cultivation, police offer their best estimates on a crime that they say is overwhelming law enforcement.

    According to the report:

    The number of grow operations in the province has more than doubled in the past two years to as many as 15,000, mostly in homes in suburbs or small and medium-sized cities.

    Since 2000, as many as 10,000 children have lived in homes that have been converted into marijuana factories, which are often located within half a kilometre of schools.

    These so-called grow ops are estimated to have illicitly generated as much as $12.7-billion during the past three years.

    At the same time, taxpayers were stuck with paying $260-million, largely because of electricity stolen from Ontario utilities by growers who want to escape the scrutiny that accompanies large electricity bills.

    Typically, rows upon rows of hydroponically grown plants are tended by new immigrants and their families, who face increased risk of fires, violent robberies and exposure to toxic chemicals.

    The findings in the Ontario report are consistent with conclusions reached in an RCMP report on national trends last year. While criminal syndicates in B.C. pioneered indoor growing in Canada, the practice has proliferated across the country in recent years.

    One reason is that marijuana cultivation is highly lucrative and it is relatively risk free here compared with the United States.

    While Americans can face stiff. multiyear jail sentences if convicted of growing marijuana, in Canada conditional sentences -- such as house arrest or other non-jail punishments -- are the norm.

    Authorities estimate a typical grow op can generate $600,000 a year.

    Police, who say Ontario's 11 million citizens couldn't possibly smoke the entire crop produced in the province, believe there is an increased demand for Canada's supply from the United States.

    At a press conference at Queen's Park yesterday, police called for tougher laws and more public awareness.

    Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner Vaughn Collins said that marijuana cultivators should face a two-year minimum sentence. While the RCMP report clearly places much blame on biker and Vietnamese gangs, Mr. Collins said that organized criminals of all stripes are involved in the trade.

    Canada's proposed marijuana-decriminalization legislation would have actually increased maximum penalties for cultivation, even as it would have fined smokers for possession instead of charging them. But the bill died when the parliamentary session ended in the fall. A recent court decision has made possession a clear criminal offence in Ontario once again, overtaking a previous decision that made it impossible for police to charge people with marijuana use.

    Note: Law enforcement overwhelmed, report warns

    Complete Title: Illegal Marijuana Operations On The Rise, Police Say

    Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Author: Colin Freeze
    Published: Thursday, December 18, 2003 - Page A16
    Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail Company
    Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
    Website: http://www.globeandmail.com/
     

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