Home News Grow-op busts steady despite more press coverage: police

Grow-op busts steady despite more press coverage: police

by Archives April 6, 2005

MONTREAL (CUP) — Since the shooting deaths of four Mounties outside an Alberta grow-op early last month, police takedowns of marijuana-producing facilities have been receiving more media coverage. But authorities and pot advocates alike agree there has been no increase in busts of grow-ops.

Wayne Oakes, spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mountain Police of Alberta, said the increased media attention is due to the fact grow-ops now play a larger role in public consciousness.

“Any time a tragic incident happens, it will heighten awareness,” he said.

While Oakes said more people are paying attention, he denied the police have cracked down on grow-ops. He said the rigorous process necessary to obtain a search warrant ensures police are not doing things any differently because of the shootings.

“It usually starts off with a very subtle belief, but we cannot act on mere suspicion. We need enough credibility for a search warrant to be justified,” he said.

In Montreal, Dominique Lacasse, who is in charge of drug offences for Saint-Henri and Pointe-Saint-Charles, agreed there has been no significant increase in the number of raids.

“I see busts every week, but there’s been no change,” he said.

Sonja Kleiman, chief hemp officer for the federal Marijuana Party, said police rarely search out grow-ops. She maintained that chance, rather than investigation, usually leads to the discovery of the operations.

“Nine times out of 10, it’s some random factor,” she said, citing examples such as fires in the buildings or operators bragging to friends about their crop tipping off police.

Corporal Pat Gelina, a national RCMP spokesperson, pointed out the difficult position police face when they find out about grow-ops.

“We know we may get hurt. There are often booby traps, but it’s our job,” he said.

Kleiman said there would be less crime attached to the marijuana industry if small-scale grow-ops were legalized, as it would encourage people to grow for themselves and eliminate larger operations. She also said higher standards of quality and safety could be enforced.

“If it were legalized, it could be regulated just like basil production. As it is, all that matters to growers is the finishing weight,” Kleiman said.

But Oakes argued legalization would do nothing to curb what he called the ill effects of marijuana. He said the legality of alcohol and tobacco has not reduced the threatening aspects of those substances.

“History has not proven that aspect thus far,” Oakes said.

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