cannabisnews.com: Pot Farms Conceal Deadly Risks





Pot Farms Conceal Deadly Risks
Posted by CN Staff on June 15, 2002 at 08:18:59 PT
By Mira Oberman
Source: Globe and Mail 
Neighbours say the first sign of trouble was when smoke started billowing out the second-floor windows. The next was when the police started knocking on their doors.Days after bags of marijuana plants were hauled out of the unassuming brick house, people who live nearby were still shocked to learn a drug lab had been established on their quiet central Toronto street.
They might never have found out if it weren't for the sparks from a badly installed breaker panel the growers were using to steal power from nearby hydro lines.Fire has become an all too common business risk for basement marijuana producers who pirate electricity to avoid being detected by police forces and hydro utilities that watch for the unusual consumption patterns created by hydroponic operations.That, in turn, has become a problem for neighbours who have no clue that the home next to them is sheltering a small part of a pervasive illegal operation.In the past year in the Toronto area alone, more than two dozen of these suburban, indoor farms have caught fire.The Peterborough Avenue lab busted on June 1 is just one of thousands that have popped up in homes across Canada, as organized crime rings look to expand beyond the overcrowded Vancouver area. And with complex ventilation systems and thousands of dollars of professional greenhouse equipment ensuring the plants attain the perfect yield and potency, most are not mom-and-pop operations."We've been in some houses where you can't move because every room has been converted into grow labs," said John Nielsen, acting superintendent of the Peel Regional Police. "This is big business. It's driven by money and profit and the profit in this is huge."Police estimate there could be as many as 10,000 hydroponic marijuana labs hidden in houses across Southern Ontario. With an average yield of about 1,200 plants a year, it's a $12-billion industry, and the province's most valuable cash crop.Aside from bringing gangland-style slayings to the suburbs -- three hydroponic operators have been shot or beaten to death in the greater Toronto area in the past three months -- the mix of water, electricity and fertilizer could pose a deadly risk for unsuspecting neighbours.The scenario that disturbs police is a small child running into a nearby yard after a heavy rain. There's a live bypass cut into the underground hydro line and the child is electrocuted.It hasn't happened, but it's possible, cautioned Ralph Van Haeren, a general manager at Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority.The ESA has inspected 472 busted grow houses across Ontario this year. In some, the rewiring looked professionally done. In others, entire sections of the house were buzzing with electricity."They might have 30,000 to 40,000 watts of lights installed just in the basement. This electricity provides a fair bit of heat and the rewiring isn't very good," he said. "There are also often huge bundles of wiring passing through holes in the floors or the walls and many of the circuits are overloaded."We're setting the stage for something really bad to happen here."Two years after sophisticated hydroponic operations started showing up in Southern Ontario, emergency workers are still trying to get a handle on the situation.Police have started training firefighters to recognize drug labs so they can avoid being caught in chemical soups with ventilation systems fanning the flames.Utilities are having some success tracking down the millions of dollars of electricity being stolen to feed the plants.Crown attorneys are asking for stiffer sentences. Politicians are considering tougher laws. Children's Aid agents are taking children away from parents who live in the grow houses.A public-relations campaign has been started to encourage people to keep an eye out for houses with blacked-out or covered windows, strange vents, and skunky odours.But police caution even that won't be enough to get rid of the indoor labs."I don't think we're going to eliminate them. As long as there's profit in the act, people are going to do it," said Staff Sergeant Ray Massicotte of the Waterloo Regional Police. "Our goal is to make it so difficult it's not profitable any more."A major impediment to cracking down further on hydroponic labs is the lack of police resources. It costs about $10,000 to $15,000 of police work to shut down a single operation and drug squads in some regions are now discovering five to 10 labs a week. Others said they could stop even more if they had the time and money. Dr. Stephen Easton, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, said trying to keep up with the criminals doesn't make sense. While he said there are a number of political reasons why marijuana remains an illegal substance, he argued that legalizing it would save taxpayers a lot of trouble and earn the government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income."On the economic side of things, it sure looks like a profitable thing to do, so why would we throw it away into the hands of unsavoury criminals?" he asked.Note: Hydro stolen to run the hydroponic labs has led to fires and fears of electrocution.Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Mira ObermanSaturday, June 15, 2002  Print Edition, Page A9 Copyright: 2002 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: http://www.globeandmail.ca/Related Articles & Web Site:Canadian Linkshttp://freedomtoexhale.com/can.htmMarijuana Grow-Ops in B.C. Jumped by 222 Percent http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread13118.shtmlDrug Czar Wants Tougher Stance Against Marijuana http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread13116.shtmlCanada: The Debate Over Decriminalization http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread12697.shtml
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help




Comment #3 posted by Letsgetfree on June 15, 2002 at 12:31:52 PT
Wow the Globe said it....
this article spells out exactly WHY it SHOULD be legal. Every bad thing they mention in this piece is realted to the fact THAT IT'S ILLEGAL! I'm in Southern Ontario, and trust me, nothing anyone does will do anything to make weed go the way of the dodo. We get dank for pretty cheap around here, the only thing police WILL EVER ACCOMPLISH is maybe, MAYBE, making prices go up a little. T DOT LOVES THA HERB! LET IT BURN!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on June 15, 2002 at 11:58:24 PT
How dangerous is the Labatt's breweries?
  If cannabis were legal to grow and trade and consume, the large grow ops would be overseen by some sort of safety agency, would they not? They wouldn't have to steal power from the neighbors, that's for sure. Heck, if cannabis were legal, would we need to steal enough power to duplicate the effects of the sun in a concealed area in the first place??
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by Kevin Spencer on June 15, 2002 at 10:37:30 PT
Legalize it then
Ha, i'm Canadian to. 
While he said there are a number of political reasons why marijuana remains an illegal substance, he argued that legalizing it would save taxpayers a lot of trouble and earn the government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income."On the economic side of things, it sure looks like a profitable thing to do, so why would we throw it away into the hands of unsavoury criminals?" he askedWell then why the fuck don't they just legalize it and try to pay off our national debt of $500 billion
The government has no fucking brains.
[ Post Comment ]


Post Comment