Growing Concerns 

Growing Concerns 
Posted by CN Staff on March 26, 2004 at 08:19:58 PT
By T.J. Pignataro, News Staff Reporter
Source: Buffalo News 
Drug dealers solicit bingo players to smuggle marijuana across the Peace Bridge. Customs agents seize dozens of trucks loaded with hydroponic marijuana at border crossings. Fires break out in marijuana "grow houses" in Southern Ontario from overwired and illegal electrical hookups. These and other signs point to the Buffalo Niagara region's becoming a major distribution point, where extremely potent Canadian marijuana is traded for American cash, cocaine and weapons, according to law enforcement on both sides of the border.
"I used to say it was a rash, but we're now dealing with an epidemic of marijuana trafficking along the border here," said Mark T. Peterson, resident agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration office in Buffalo. "We're seeing hundreds of pounds of this stuff coming in every week." This year, at least 25 hydroponic marijuana-growing operations, with plants and equipment valued at about $4 million in U.S. funds, have been shut down in Ontario's Niagara region. In all of last year, Canadian authorities made about 70 raids. And on this side of the border, U.S. customs officials in the first 21/2 months of this year made 49 marijuana seizures totaling 4,246 pounds. During all of last year, customs made 99 seizures totaling 1,108 pounds. On average, two or three truckloads are nabbed every week, Peterson said. One of the biggest this year was at the Peace Bridge on Feb. 13, when four Toronto-area men were arrested after 1,277 pounds of marijuana was seized from the trailer of a truck entering Buffalo. Five days later, three other men were charged with trying to smuggle 502 pounds of dope into Buffalo sealed in vacuum-packed bags stuffed inside boxes marked as coffee. Street value of that bust? More than $1 million. And Canadian authorities believe they broke up the largest growing operation in their nation's history in mid-January in Barrie, Ont., just north of Toronto. A former Molson brewery had been converted into massive pot-growing operation. Nine people were arrested - including two from Niagara Falls and three from St. Catharines - and 30,000 plants, valued at nearly $22.5 million in U.S. funds, were seized. "We've certainly had hydroponic operations in our region. It seems like it's gotten worse," said Rick Geady of the Niagara Regional Police. "The best pot around' The southern United States, Mexico and points farther south don't grow the quality of marijuana that Canada does, Peterson says. That's why there's such a market for the northern pot. "It's recognized globally as the best pot around," Peterson said. "It's commanding a very, very high price." Canadian hydroponic pot has at least 10 times the potency of outdoor-grown marijuana or the dope from a generation ago, he said. That's because indoor growers have perfected methods to increase the content of THC - delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active chemical in marijuana. "After many years of trial and error, these growing operations have become extremely exact," Peterson said. "This is not the pot of the 1960s. The quality is unbelievable." Each plant - which conservatively produces about a pound of product - runs about $1,500 to $2,000 on the street. Lesser criminal penalties in Canada and the demand for the Canadian product in the United States are resulting in the rapid proliferation of the growing operations in Southern Ontario. "A criminal entrepreneur would be more likely to operate in a jurisdiction where the penalties are less severe," Peterson said. Pot trade migrated east The bulk of the marijuana trade was conducted on the West Coast, especially in the Vancouver, British Columbia, and Blaine, Wash., area during the mid-1990s. Now the production and distribution of marijuana has migrated east and is at Buffalo's front door. The highly sophisticated hydroponic growing operations are at epidemic levels in St. Catharines, Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, Canadian authorities concede. They estimate that about 15,000 grow operations exist in the province and say police agencies are losing the battle to keep up with the burgeoning billion-dollar-a-year Canadian black market business of growing and exporting hydroponic marijuana. "The vast majority of this product is destined for the U.S., and that's a threat to our open borders," said Vaughn Collins, deputy commissioner of investigations and organized crime for the Ontario Provincial Police. Canadian authorities say organized criminals who control the hydroponic trade and export the highly potent drugs to the United States seem to be bringing American problems back to Canada. "Profits return to Canada via organized crime in the form of cash, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin and guns," said Chuck Mercier, deputy chief of the Durham, Ont., Regional Police. Tricks of the trade At least two murders in the Toronto area are linked to the marijuana trade, police say. And Canadian officials fear that a sharp escalation in violence is on their doorstep. That doesn't surprise Peterson a bit. "There's a lot of competition in the international drug market. The way to eliminate the competition is to do it literally," he said. Not surprisingly, the criminals behind the marijuana-smuggling trade are constantly working to stay a step ahead of law enforcement. One of the tricks authorities uncovered recently was two women posing as mother/daughter bingo players returning from Fort Erie. The women were hired by drug traffickers to carry drugs back into the United States. "It's not the type of car you'd refer over to secondary inspection," Peterson said. In a recent such case, a drug-sniffing dog nearby called customs officials' attention to the women's car. Upon inspection, customs officers uncovered a cache of marijuana. Peterson believes those types of sly maneuvers are not uncommon. Despite last month's large truck busts at the Peace Bridge, much of the smuggling is done on a smaller scale so as not to risk forfeiting a large shipment. "They'll repeatedly run across the border, and if they lose one, it's the cost of doing business," Peterson said. Officials didn't have estimates as to how much marijuana does seep into the United States. Greater awareness of marijuana smuggling and stricter border inspections following Sept. 11, 2001, however, have resulted in the dramatic increases in the amount of marijuana seized by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection at U.S. ports of entry. "Since Sept. 11, inspection staffing has doubled on the northern border," said Janet Rapaport, a U.S. customs spokeswoman. Rapaport said increased personnel along with enhanced training has "better equipped" inspectors in apprehending people trying to illegally enter the United States alone, with drugs and contraband or with weapons of mass destruction. "With (new X-ray equipment), we have the ability to peer into every compartment of a tractor-trailer rig in 21/2 minutes, a job that would have previously taken up to eight hours," she said. The number of marijuana seizures is greater in privately owned vehicles; however, more pounds are confiscated from commercial trucks, she said. Smugglers also frequently try to use mail services to sneak drugs and contraband into the country. Sophisticated operation Marijuana "grow houses" in Ontario are a far cry from the rat-infested, boarded-up crack houses of Buffalo's East Side. Their locations are carefully selected to blend in with their surroundings. Often they're hidden in quiet middle- to upper-class residential neighborhoods in newer subdivisions. Large, two-story homes are the preferred choice - 3,000 square feet or more - with an attached double garage to conceal vehicles, an unfinished basement to allow extensive rewiring and a fireplace to vent the powerful odor of the plants, police say. Financiers of the operations vary. Authorities say, however, that in their experience, marijuana trading is typically linked to motorcycle gangs as well as Eastern European and Asian gangs. Fronts for the growing operations buy or lease houses to cultivate the plants. Once the growers are in the house, the structure is gutted. Walls are taken out, windows are covered up, and holes are cut in floors for venting. The house is overwired to bypass hydro and steal electricity. Powerful 1,000-watt lights are set up with ventilation shafts and large fans. A family usually lives in the house - often with children - to give the appearance of normalcy. Often new immigrants, these people are paid by the gang leaders to serve as marijuana farmers who water, prune, fertilize and care for the plants, police sources say. Tips from neighbors often lead police to the illegal operations. Authorities say that the houses can be booby-trapped. Some have included a rigged electrical barrier to provide a shock to anyone entering the house, jars of nitric acid strategically located in doorways to spill on intruders and a contraption to fire a shotgun shell if a trap is tripped. An electrical malfunction associated with growing equipment sparked a February blaze that damaged a Graeber Avenue house in Fort Erie. Located inside was a nearly $200,000 (U.S.) marijuana-growing business, Niagara Regional Police reported. "Cancer on communities'The effects of the marijuana industry in Ontario stretch far beyond the houses themselves, however, police said. The proliferation of the growing operations is hitting the quality of life of everyday Canadians and the country's commercial economy hard. About $64 million (U.S.) in electricity theft is committed annually in Ontario to grow pot, power companies estimate. That loss is passed on to legal power customers, who pay about $37 (U.S.) extra every month to make up for the theft, Collins said. The export of marijuana has also brought harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy into Canada from the United States, along with firearms and violent crime, authorities say. "Grow operations are a danger to more than the people who live there. They are like a cancer on our communities and go often undetected for a long period of time," said Monte Kwinter, the Ontario minister of community safety and correctional services. Note: Powerful Canadian pot trade burgeoning in Buffalo Niagara.Source: Buffalo News (NY)Author: T.J. Pignataro, News Staff ReporterPublished: March 26, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Buffalo NewsWebsite: LetterToEditor buffnews.comRelated Articles:Canadian Pot a Growing Concern, U.S. Says To Stop Grow-Ops? Legalize Pot -- Canada Archives
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Comment #26 posted by afterburner on April 06, 2004 at 05:52:03 PT:
More Green Truth: Green Tide Shadow Summit
Green Truth Summit 4
Speeches by Adrian Chairney, whose mother is a medical marijuana user, and how it affected her family, and Police Officer John Gayder, Founding Secretary, Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition, with insight into the harm reduction aspect in his experience with the law.
Post-convention antics with Marc Emery.
filmed by Tim Meehan and Brian Perdue Truth Summit 3
Speeches at the Green Truth Summit by Norman Pearce about the social implications and targets of Green Tide thgough his experience as a Harm Reduction Worker.
Alison Myrden with the words of Jude Renaud, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, and a Med-grower perspective with "Herbman"- Stephen J. VanDeKemp
filmed by Tim Meehan and Brian Perdue
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on April 02, 2004 at 14:32:19 PT
Related News Article from The Canadian Press
Here's the link and the portion of the article related to cannabis.***Martin To Visit Bush at White House This MonthApril 2, 2004Bush is likely to have questions about Canada's role in the war on terrorism, and perhaps on its legislation to decriminalize marijuana.Ottawa's immigration, security and drug policies have often been criticized as too lax.Complete Article:
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Comment #24 posted by Virgil on March 27, 2004 at 06:51:15 PT
Quotas on textles for WTO countries end on 12/31
From Under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), all quotas restricting textile and clothing trade between World Trade Organization (WTO) members will be eliminated by December 31, 2004. 
Google results for "quotas textiles China 2005"
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Comment #23 posted by The GCW on March 27, 2004 at 03:45:18 PT
Chinese hemp quotas???
A couple people spoke up at this debate...US CO: Drugs, Task Force Debated, Virgil and anyone else,I'd like to know more about, the quotas on Chinese texttiles end in 2005.
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Comment #22 posted by Virgil on March 26, 2004 at 19:49:28 PT
The quotas on Chinese texttiles end in 2005
Ekim, I think the limit of Chinese textiles ends in January of next year. It really will wipe out what textile mills are left. It may also mean that reasonably-priced hemp clothing. 
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Comment #21 posted by ekim on March 26, 2004 at 19:27:36 PT
Virg maybe the DU could see this thread
The other day on C-Span a person talking about unions and our jobs going offshore said just wait until 05 when some textile law goes into effect and all the mills here will move to China.Chinese Hemp Industry has Boundless Potential
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Comment #20 posted by Virgil on March 26, 2004 at 18:24:00 PT
Nader supports hemp in speech today
This is taken from a thread starter at DU from someone that went to see Nader speak today- Spent a long time discussing how health care could be made accessible to everyone and mercilessly railed against the pharmaceutical companies. He also spent a surprising amount of time discussing industrial hemp and the plight of farmers. That is just a quick summary and I left a lot out.
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on March 26, 2004 at 18:17:06 PT
A Question
mayan made me think of this. Why isn't the USA on the list of bad countries because they supply lots of Cocaine to poor Canadians? I get very tired of double standards. 
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Comment #18 posted by E_Johnson on March 26, 2004 at 18:09:08 PT
It's not the substance, it's the people
Why are they worried about weed when there are other things to worry about?This is about people, we all know that.Reefer makes a darkie look a white man in the eye. That's what the architect of this madness said.They don't like being looked in the eye!
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Comment #17 posted by mayan on March 26, 2004 at 18:01:10 PT
Why do American authorities seem to be more worried about cannabis coming south over the border than Canadian authorities are about cocaine and weapons moving north over the border? "Never mind the terrorists, we've got to stop the dreaded devil weed!" The way out is the way in...9/11 International Inquiry - San Francisco, March 26-28th:"We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001": Myth of the President's Brief: Was Not An Attack - It Was Murder: Video of George W. Bush on the Morning of 9/11: Prior Knowledge/Government Involvement Archive:
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Comment #16 posted by global_warming on March 26, 2004 at 15:52:50 PT
18:53 3/26/2004Hi AllExcuse my confusion and or paranoia, but it seems to me that since Jamaica has recently introduced some effort to ease up on the cannabis matter, and what with all is going on in Haiti.. I submit some news that just does not jive.."8:50 - 8:58 AM - EXCLUSIVE: Condoleezza Rice Threatens Jamaica Over AristideRandall Robinson, who accompanied Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on his historic return trip back to the Caribbean, reveals that National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice is telling the Jamaican government if Aristide is not immediately expelled from the country and anything happens to American forces in Haiti, consequences would be exacted against Jamaica in full force by the U.S.National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice has refused to appear before the 9-11 Commission to give sworn testimony. But she has been very busy on a different front: The situation in Haiti. Rice and other officials have very publicly expressed their anger at President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return to the Western Hemisphere on March 15, after spending 2 weeks in the Central African Republic. The Haitian President is currently in Jamaica with his wife, Mildred, and their two young daughters. The Bush administration has characterized Aristide's return to the Caribbean as inflaming the situation in Haiti and has gone as far as to label his presence an incitement to violence. Aristide maintains that he was kidnapped as part of a US-orchestrated coup...Now I wonder, what is this Black Stanford whore up to?It seems too coincidental, that Jamaica, a not so rich country, that has provided asylum for Aristide, is being offered such a heavy hand from the US, and while Haiti burns, the US has so much free time to donate, while the terrorists, that threaten US soil, remain, largely unknown and not apprehended.I cannot understand the workings of the government or the cartels, oil, drugs, and weapons,. Maybe the natives are restless, and maybe they are waking up, my hopes and prayers, that a new day with renewed awareness shall arise, to push away the darkness, the fog in our eyes, so that we may all see, the demons that are sucking on our bloods.-gw
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Comment #15 posted by Petard on March 26, 2004 at 15:28:44 PT
"police agencies are losing the battle"
At least Canucks seem able to accept the inevetible defeat of prohibition v2.0. They may be slow about it, but at least they seem willing to admit being unable to remain free AND incarcerate their citizenry. That's more honesty than the US administration for the last 30 years has had in any one members little toe.Sure hope those guys running the truck x-ray machines are wearing a lot of lead. Any x-rays powerful enough to penetrate aluminum and steel trailers has gotta be capable of producing some tremendous physiological effects. Talk about a "dead" end job, that one sounds to me like it ends with death, a horrible, miserable, cancer ridden one too. Heck, if the 1st motorcycle cops with radar guns to catch speeders got testicular cancer from those low powered radar guns sitting in their laps....well, it's gonna cost these truck inspectors more than just their balls. And the irony? The confiscated cannabis could help ease their suffering they're bringing upon themselves.
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Comment #14 posted by lilgrasshoppah77 on March 26, 2004 at 15:27:42 PT:
The puns reveal the truth..
If there was any doubt of how seriously prohibitionists actually take cannabis prohibition, note how filled with levity and puns their editorials and news items are: "up in smoke" "smoke-screen" "gone to pot" "growing concern"... etcetera.Caan you imagine such puns in any other context, "Ted Bundy caught clowning around with the neighborhood boys...." "Saddam versus Bush in a knock-down drag 'em ot pool championship for Persian Gulf Oil... Saddam says 'Iraq!'"Yep, deadly menaces to society are soooo damn funny, aren't they?
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Comment #13 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on March 26, 2004 at 13:20:21 PT
Sirs,  With all the talk of the dangers of big Canadian grow-ops, don't forget that the Canadian federal government recently grew a large crop of pot themselves down a mine shaft in Flin Flon, Manitoba. This crop had none of the negative elements of an illicit grow op: licensed contractors installed the equipment safely without stealing any electricity, no criminals were involved, and none of the product was sold to children (or, for that matter, BY children). This illustrates the main problem with illegal grow ops: they're illegal. Which would you rather have in your town, Al Capone's bathtub gin-mills, or government licensed breweries like Labatts and Coors? Since people are going to smoke marijuana - nothing law enforcement has done over the past thirty-five years has shown any signs of stopping that - why not take the criminals out of the loop? Regulate it, tax it, sell it to adults in stores in a manner similar to alcohol, and stop treating responsible users like criminals. You'd think, after 9/11, our governments would have found better uses for their finite resources than waging a war on their own citizens.
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Comment #12 posted by Dankhank on March 26, 2004 at 12:55:45 PT
radio free amsterdam is not working.
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Comment #11 posted by goneposthole on March 26, 2004 at 11:00:10 PT
off topic Free AmsterdamWhat's good for the Canadian goose is good for the American eagle.
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Comment #10 posted by E_Johnson on March 26, 2004 at 10:43:32 PT
I wrote them a letter
I asked them how can they expend so much energy drumming up yet more tedious anti-marijuana hysteria, when the children of this country are suffering from an epidemic of obesity and showing signs of adult diabetes and heart disease at 15?Apparently, American children have a bigger problem with food than with pot, and their problem with food is already doing permanent harm. If you have signs of adult heart disease at 15 -- that's a long term illness, not short term one.This is from parents no longer knowing how to feed their children, because they're learning how to do it by watching TV.Yes, take your children out to McDonalds to keep them from trying pot.Stuff them with comfort food every day, so you can prove you're an involved parent and keep them off pot.I think that's how it worked for a lot of people. I think that's how they were thinking, and now look, their kids have permanently damaged lives out of it.
It's sad and ironic and a tragedy that will be quite expensive for this country in terms of health care costs for the next 50 years.
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Comment #9 posted by E_Johnson on March 26, 2004 at 10:22:06 PT
We're walking contradictions
Marijuana makes everyone who uses it dumb and lazy, so they are able to grow marijuana in increasingly sophisticated operations with increasing ambition and success.You have to be really dumb and lazy to extensively hybridize an illegal plant genome and smuggle it across the world and get rich.Yup, marijuana sure makes people dumb and lazy, you can see it from articles like these.(wink nudge)
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 26, 2004 at 10:07:15 PT
The Author Should Watch This Video
I just love this video! A place to live and a place to grow! Ontario! LOL!
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on March 26, 2004 at 09:55:46 PT:
Marc Emery Was at the Green Tide Summit w/ Kwinter
This article is right out of the DEA/OCAP playbook. Listen as Marc demolishes the Green Tide allegations about Grow-Ops one-by-one at Green Truth: the Green Tide Shadow Summit on March 4, 2004, and points to the real cause, Cannabis Prohibition.Prince of Pot: Prince of Pot with Pot-TV Running Time: 56 min Date Entered: 25 Mar 2004 "Marc Emery speaks at the Green Truth Summit in Toronto with Alison Myrden." 
Sound is terrible for about the first 14 minutes.BTW, Tim Meehan, Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis, OCSARC, has labeled ONDCP ads being broadcast in Canada as hate speech against the cannabis community. Hate speech is illegal in Canada. 
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Comment #6 posted by Dankhank on March 26, 2004 at 09:52:45 PT:
How High?
How high do you ... need to ... want to ... think you ... hope you .... get?The stronger the kind, the less needed to get to the 'place' most want to be.That's good, since the 'kind' ain't kind on the wallet.Three or four tokes of typical SW OK product will get you to a nice party head, if you want more, use more.Then, of course, there is the resins. Easy to produce, so ... ya'll fight over the kind ... and SW OK will still have some pretty good smoke ... for 50/OZ.This 'menace' called Canuk Bud is really happening because Canabis is not free.Free the Weed and the 'problem' will go away ...
Hemp N Stuff
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on March 26, 2004 at 09:26:37 PT
Canada is one great country
During alcohol prohibition, Canada flooded the states with booze. Now, during cannabis prohibition, Canadians see fit to ship tons of cannabis into the US.Life is good.As far as I am concerned, Canada is a friendly neighbor that has a lot to offer.Hats off to our Canadian friends and their good neighbor policy. Many thanks. Gracias...Danke.
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on March 26, 2004 at 09:17:54 PT:
And one more thing
This anti overuse of the word "sophisticated". It's downright laughable. They really, truly have no idea of it's origins.I rarely use the word in describing anything, because I *know* it's origins: from 'sophist'. Look it up. Here, another easy bite to digest:·ist  ( P ) Pronunciation Key (sfst)
n. 1) One skilled in elaborate and devious argumentation. 
A scholar or thinker. 
2) Sophist: Any of a group of professional fifth-century B.C. Greek philosophers and teachers who speculated on theology, metaphysics, and the sciences, and who were later characterized by Plato as superficial manipulators of rhetoric and dialectic. In other words, a shameless bullsh***er who twists facts to suit himself.If the antis understood the reason why the word 'sophist' has such a negative connotation amongst anyone with a smidgin of an education, they'd stop using 'sophisticated' in a heartbeat. If only to avoid the possibility of having someone point out the obvious connection between a dead Greek's opinion of his contemporaries and today's ideological descendents of those same bullsh***ers. 
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on March 26, 2004 at 09:03:59 PT
T.J. Pignataro
Heidi Fleiss never prostituted herself as much as you are now.
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on March 26, 2004 at 09:01:39 PT
The drama queens of the press
Look at me! Look how important my story is!!! I'll make up sexy adjectives to inflame you and make you think I'm very special as a writer!Balderdash.The biggest prostitutes in journalism are the ones who write story after story like this one.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on March 26, 2004 at 08:56:05 PT:
Oh, jeez, how many times does it have to be said?
"Extremely potent"..."It's recognized globally as the best pot around,"..."It's commanding a very, very high price." Now, look here. I will apologize in advance for any ruffled Canuck feathers. They probably *do* make some high-octane, mind-blasting weed. I just haven't had any yet.All this hype surrounding "BC Bud" and Canuck weed in general might have made for some great sales pitches, but this none-too-satisfied customer has been burned on too many occasions regarding said Canuck weed to doubt the glowing testimonials. And I got mine from the supposed Holy of Holies *while I was in BC*.And now, the antis are buying into the same 'bill of goods'.Bad enough I was suckered; cold comfort the antis are being taken down the primrose path as well...
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