Marijuana Industry Booming in Canada

Marijuana Industry Booming in Canada
Posted by CN Staff on March 10, 2005 at 11:40:47 PT
By Susan Bourette, Correspondent of The CSM
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Toronto -- On the street it's called Northern Lights, Ontario Hydro, and B.C. bud. It's one of Canada's biggest agricultural exports - a potent form of marijuana cultivated in sprawling "grow houses," worth an estimated US$4 billion to $7 billion annually. Much of it is smuggled into the US.Once hidden in farming communities and well-heeled suburbs, grow operations - indoor nurseries with high-tech lighting and temperature controls - have been thrust into the national spotlight. Thursday Canada buried four young Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who were killed during a bust in rural Alberta March 3.
The Alberta grow house was just one of thousands across Canada. Here in Ontario, police say indoor pot operations have risen 250 percent in the past four years. And Vancouver is home to some 7,000 "grow ops" at any time, police say.The tragedy - the deadliest incident for Canada's national police force in 120 years - has ignited debate as Canadians begin to question whether liberal attitudes toward marijuana and lenient laws enacted over the past two decades have contributed to the drug boom."It's really got people talking about the problem," says Marc Pinault, staff sergeant with the Ottawa Police Service's drug unit. "It's pretty clear that we produce a pile of pot, and it's really good stuff. I don't know that that's something we should be really proud of." Drugs Moving EastBritish Columbia has long been the hub of sophisticated, high-tech nurseries capable of producing pot with nearly 30 times the kick of what was found on the street a decade ago, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Sergeant Pinault says the increasing numbers of massive growing operations - once largely the preserve of Asian gangs and bikers on the West Coast - indicate the problem is moving East into provinces like Ontario and Quebec.Tom Stamatakis, a Vancouver police officer and a member of the Canadian Professional Police Association, says criminals across the country are modeling their operations after those found in and around Vancouver.For example, he says, grow houses are increasingly found in upscale areas of the city as criminals ply their trade behind picket fences and a facade of respectability. Inside, they're a hotbed of danger - rigged with booby traps to ward off intruders and noxious chemical compounds that pose serious health threats.But those aren't the only perils. DEA special agent Rodney Benson of Seattle says recent busts have also netted a pile of automatic weapons and explosive devices."We're definitely seeing more violence," explains Mr. Benson, who recently oversaw a year long, cross- border sting called Operation Hockey Bag, in which investigators charged 22 people and seized more than 400 lbs. of marijuana, along with $3.4 million and a dozen firearms. "It's not just weapons - it's what we're seeing from the organization. They rule and intimidate from within."RCMP investigators are still sifting through the evidence, trying to find out what led to the killing of the four officers last week. The incident began as an attempt to repossess a pickup truck but ballooned into a larger investigation after the marijuana growing operation was discovered. The gunman, Jim Roszko, killed the officers and later turned a high-powered, semiautomatic weapon on himself.Canadian officials stress that it was an isolated act of extreme violence - and they hope to keep it that way. Many, like Mr. Stamatakis of Vancouver, say that Canadian lawmakers are too lenient in meting out penalties for those involved in growing operations contributing to the drug explosion."When even the outgoing prime minister [Jean Chrétien] makes a flippant comment like, 'What's the big deal about marijuana? I've probably had a few puffs myself.' That sends the wrong message to the community and the courts," Stamatakis says. Softer Laws for Using, Harder for SellingThere has been a major push to decriminalize marijuana across the country in recent years. Canada was the first country to regulate its medicinal use, in 1999. However, while the government has recently moved to introduce softer penalties for possession, penalties for growers could get stiffer. A marijuana bill, reintroduced in November, advocates that possession of up to 15 grams would be punishable by fines of C$100 to C$150 ($85 to $125), but would no longer lead to a criminal record.For growers, those caught with more than three plants, face up to five years in jail, or 18 months plus a C$25,000 ($20,700) fine. Those caught with more than 25 plants could face 10 years in jail, while the bill provides a maximum sentence of up to 14 years for operations with more than 50 plants.Last week, Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan issued a warning in the wake of the shootings, telling judges that they will be forced to explain their decisions in writing if jail terms are not imposed on those who grow plants. Under Canadian laws, criminals face a maximum seven-year jail term. In practice, however, many people convicted of growing marijuana receive sentences of little more than a few months, police say.Criminologist Patrick Parnaby says the events of last week are likely to lead to stiffer penalties. When something like narcotics is intimately tied to violence, there is going to be a powerful public backlash, says the associate professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario. "Stricter laws will make the public feel a whole lot better," he says.But many users pushing for decriminalization couldn't disagree more. Blair Longley, leader of the federal Marijuana Party, says legalization would wipe out criminal enterprises across the country."They've just used this [the Alberta shootings] as an excuse to crack down and enforce outdated laws," says Mr. Longley. "In reality, liberalizing the laws would mean you would get rid of almost all the profits and, therefore, all the crime."Note: Ontario police have seen a 250 percent increase in indoor pot operations.Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)Author: Susan Bourette, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor Published:  March 11, 2005 Edition Copyright: 2005 The Christian Science Publishing SocietyContact: oped csps.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:CannabisNews Canadian Links Drug Laws Called More Risky Years, Everyone Saw This Coming Front in Drug War Opens on Border
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Comment #18 posted by John Tyler on March 11, 2005 at 18:44:48 PT
Booming Industry!
The politicos can say what they want. It doesn't matter anymore. People on both sides of the issue agree that the indusrty is huge. Both sides even say the cannabis is great. It's the pride of Canada. And the money is overwhelming. The situation is not going to go away, no matter what. The only way it can be dealt with is to legalize the indusrty and bring it in out of the cold. The antis will fuss, but they are going to have to deal with that and make their peace with it. Why? It is the only way that will work.
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Comment #17 posted by kaptinemo on March 11, 2005 at 07:00:32 PT:
Mayan, get out of my head! LOL!
I was going to add to my comment that every Cabinet position she's held she's measurably screwed up. Midas Touch in reverse. 
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Comment #16 posted by mayan on March 11, 2005 at 06:26:44 PT
A Senator???
Canada is definitely taking after the U.S. by rewarding failure!
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Comment #15 posted by kaptinemo on March 11, 2005 at 05:57:19 PT:
McLellan a Senator? Seriously?
In the same august body as the wise and sage Claude Nolin? Oh, say it ain't so!
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Comment #14 posted by mayan on March 11, 2005 at 05:20:42 PT
Toronto Copters
They're getting a little carried away up there in Canada. It sounds like it's getting as bad as it is here in the states. I just don't understand the logic of ratcheting up a policy that has proved to be such a colossal failure...Pot-spot copters pushed - T.O. CALLED A HAVEN FOR GROWERS: wants voters to decide on pot proposal(NV):
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Comment #13 posted by JackBNimble on March 11, 2005 at 05:19:24 PT
Anne Mclellan
I'll bite, Afterburner.Carolyn Parrish was an MP from (liberal) vote rich Ontario. She was not a cabinet minister, and therefore easily expendable.McLellan now, hails from Alberta. Liberals have a hard time making any inroads there. McLellan is able to because she is not really a liberal at all. The Liberals are very careful with Alberta for some reason.Now what really scares me is the chatter that she may be appointed to the Senate upon retirement.Senators are (and are supposed to continue to be) wise and non-reactionary. Appointing Anne Mclellan would destroy both of those safeguards (to the house's power) at once.She has exhibited on numerous occasions her inability to grasp a situation and logically compose a solution (or even answer a question)Anne Mclellan was promoted beyond her abilities three (3) promotions ago.She should never have risen above junior cabinet minister status (I.E, Indian affairs or fisheries or some such) and I truly feel that backbencher would have been more appropriate.Thus ends this rant.
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on March 11, 2005 at 05:06:54 PT
Where Is Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan's...
Apology,for shamelessly using the Mountie tragedy to promote her harsh views on grow-ops? When will she apologize for calling cannabis smokers "stupid"?MP Carolyn Parrish was removed from the Liberal Party caucus for her intemperate words and actions regarding the US President. Why does Prime Minister Paul Martin allow his Deputy PM to malign a significant group of Canadians, some of them sick and dying, without censuring her?
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Comment #11 posted by kaptinemo on March 11, 2005 at 04:13:05 PT:
Partly related: Seattle in the reform spotlight
...again.Thanks to Pete Guither at DrugWarRant we learn of further developments regarding the King County Bar Association and their bold stepping forward and calling for a serious discussion on ending the current drug prohibition regime:Drug war strategy assailed at forum; Role of treatment stressed in reducing street-level dealing
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER makes all the points we have for years. And it's being taken seriously. People are watching this very closely, on all sides of the matter; I'm fully expecting ol' Johnny Pee to hop on the next plane out of Dee Cee any day now, heading for See-attul in a godawful hurry to douse this particular fire...and there's not even one of those pesky referendums or elections yet...
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Comment #10 posted by OverwhelmSam on March 11, 2005 at 03:51:43 PT
This Article Is Behind The Times
The Top Cop in Canada already admitted that this incident wasn't a grow op, it was a stolen car investigation that went bad. The guy who shot these cops was a lunatic who just happened to be growing a few plants, not nearly enough to be considered an organized crime dealer. However, the police spun it into a grow op bust to incite the public at large. This article came out on the 10th and on the 8th it was announced that the police had lied about this incident being a grow op bust.
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Comment #9 posted by b4daylight on March 10, 2005 at 20:18:48 PT
Comment #2 nice read thanks as for this crap"For example, he says, grow houses are increasingly [...]rigged with booby traps to ward off intruders and noxious chemical compounds that pose serious health threats.But those aren't the only perils. DEA special agent Rodney Benson of Seattle says recent busts have also netted a pile of automatic weapons and explosive devices."Well I wish they would seperate the peacefull growers from the dealers. Gee I bet not all 7,000 growers have automatic weapons and booby traps, nor does noxious chemicals compounds exsist, if it did then every flower garden in North America would be a toxic dump. "We're definitely seeing more violence," explains Mr. Bensonyeah from the people who profit from unreagulated trade. 
You sure do not see a huge Moonshine poputlation now do you?You notice how you do not hear things like crack dealer, meth dealer, or herion dealer. Either it is not a problem cause no one takes that stupid crap anymore. Or it is a real big problem and they want to stick with something safer. I wish I knew unfortuanly I can not get an honest article to read. Lets stick with the real problems. 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 10, 2005 at 18:15:46 PT
USA Today Has The Story Too
mayan I agree with you. I will keep hoping for the best though.Canada's Marijuana Industry is Booming
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on March 10, 2005 at 18:06:54 PT
Finger's On You, Canada
Look out, Canada. The U.S. has put it's finger right on YOU!U.S. Removes Thailand From Drug-Producing List, Cites Canada: WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...An Important Announcement by Michael C. Ruppert: 495) 9/11 - The Road to Tyranny(A college course!) Explosives In The Twin Towers - The Evidence: Was an Inside Job - A Call to All True Patriots:
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on March 10, 2005 at 17:15:50 PT
Global Warming
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Comment #5 posted by global_warming on March 10, 2005 at 16:23:36 PT
I have read a few articles from the CSM, but this one truly could have been written by John "In the Cup" Walters.Too bad, another journalistic coup for the insane prohibitionists.Those same enraged prohibitionists that cannot see the most simple solutions to this problem. The more they try to stop this, the more they find that this problem is bigger than they ever estimated. They do not realize that "prohibition" has created this incredible industry, one that has infected all levels of our society, all levels of our government, all levels of our communities. When you have enough money in this world, you can buy anything, judges, cops, congressman, even high tech satellites and weapons, whatever you need, can be bought, if you have the money. Be assured, that those that garner the greatest profits from this prohibition, have a "lot of money" and lest we forget, in this capitalist world, money=power.Legalize cannabis, let the people who want it, grow it or buy it from some local dispensary.Remove the "prohibition" and there is no "profit", remove the profit, and this problem will dissolve. There will always be bad things in this world, and I hope that our good government will keep us informed, to the perils that each and every one of us must understand.If we can be strong enough to carry our own burden, then we might find the strength to help others less fortunate.Keeping the Faithgw
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on March 10, 2005 at 15:46:19 PT:
Richard Cowan has got the CSM's 'number'
One thing I really hate about faux journalism: outright laziness. The facts concerning this matter are known to all who do the research by now: that it was well known the perp was a dangerous loose cannon hostile to police and whose threats of violence were taken seriously by his neighbors; the incident was sparked by a failed auto repossession which in turn led to the *tangential and wholly unrelated* discovery of cannabis on the man's property; that the police sent to the area were novices, and one of them not even armed; on and on, the facts speak for themselves.But the CSM, true to modern poor journalism practices, runs with the 'popular' (and incorrect) versions first trumpeted by prohibs in a shameful attempt to squeeze political mileage out of the grow op issue, seeking to capitalize on the bodies of the slain in a calculated and cynical fashion - a fashion all the rage south of the 49th Parallel. But this time they got caught in their rhetorical grave-robbing. The RCMP’s Chief Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli later sheepishly recanted his earlier claim that it was all grow op related...but does the CSM take notice? Not at all; they continue to run with the story they first heard, without waiting for confirmation. Indeed, they compound their error by further playing mouthpiece for prohibitionists with obvious intent to use this for their own ends.Of the 968 words of this article, only 66 are devoted to the reform point of view; the remainder might as well be lifted from the DEA's PR handouts. The CSM can't even be bothered to check its statistics: they continue to make the claim that the majority of cannabis grown in BC finds its way to the US, when the RCMP estimates (because of the border being tight) only 2% does. Richard Cowan has stated before, and I totally agree, that prohibition has lasted as long as it has partly because of bad journalism. The CSM has once again proven him right.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on March 10, 2005 at 14:37:23 PT
Long Riders Guild
 On Friday, March 4, 2005, Misty and Howard left Los Angeles on their way to complete the second leg of a monumental round trip from sea to shining sea, starting in Los Angeles and finishing in New York City. They have already completed a journey from Georgia to Oregon, taking the red roads across America, to end prohibition. to the Long Riders Guild, no one in recorded history has ever ridden both directions across North America. The Long Riders Guild selected Howard as one of the top dozen Longriders in the world and will be honored in London this March with a weekend of events at the Royal Geographic Society Headquarters. 
"I am still nearly punch-drunk for the honor given me. I am excited like a 6 year old before Christmas to meet the other 11, share a pint and stories of the road," says Howard.
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Comment #2 posted by Taylor121 on March 10, 2005 at 12:33:48 PT
First ever legalization bill introduced in Vermont
MONTPELIER, VERMONT -- In a historic first, Vermont state Rep. Winston Dowland (P-Derby Line) has introduced a bill to end marijuana prohibition in his state and replace it with a system of regulation. H. 390, cosponsored by Rep. David Deen (D-Westminster), is the first such bill ever introduced by state legislators."This is the beginning of a much-needed debate, not just in Vermont but throughout the nation," said Neal Levine, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "We applaud Rep. Dowland for having the courage to say something that most politicians have been afraid to acknowledge: Marijuana prohibition is just as complete a failure as Prohibition of alcohol was in the 1920s."In a written statement, Rep. Dowland said he introduced the proposal because current marijuana laws are such a total failure that a completely new approach is required. "Prohibition simply has not worked," Rep. Dowland said. "Marijuana was virtually unheard-of when its sales were first banned in Vermont in 1915. Now, after 90 years of prohibition, nearly 10% of Vermonters use it each month. Nationally, arrests for marijuana possession are running over 660,000 per year -- more than the entire population of Vermont -- and what is the result? Eighty-seven percent of high school seniors tell government survey- takers that marijuana is easy to get. How many more billions of dollars are we going to spend on this failed policy before we stop and consider whether there might not be a better way?"Dowland noted that figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more teens currently smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes, both in Vermont and nationally. "Why? Because tobacco merchants are regulated," Dowland said. "They can be fined or lose their license if they sell to kids. Marijuana dealers are happy to sell to kids, because prohibition guarantees that marijuana sellers are completely unregulated. Tobacco merchants post signs saying, 'Under 18, No Tobacco. We Card.' Have you ever seen a drug dealer with a 'We Card' sign?"Dowland acknowledged that getting legislators to consider a completely new approach won't happen overnight, saying, "My hope is to spark an honest conversation about marijuana prohibition -- both locally and nationally."
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 10, 2005 at 11:42:06 PT
Vancouver Sun Series: Part I, II & III On Line Now
Part I: II: III: News Canadian Links:
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