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RCMP Decry Time Wasted Busting Legal Grow-Ops

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
RCMP resources are being heavily used in the investigation of marijuana growing operations, only for officers to find many of the outfits they attempt to bust are licensed by Health Canada.

However, police are finding that most of the "legal" growers are producing far more than they're permitted.

"It's a loophole for sure," said a frustrated North Cowichan/ Duncan detachment commander during his quarterly report to North Cowichan council. "It's most frustrating because Health Canada doesn't send us a list every month."

Insp. Kevin Hewco said within the first week of his Green Team's latest initiative 12 out of 12 of those they'd suspected were growing the drug, or who they received a tip about, were in fact medically licensed to grow marijuana.

All 12, however, were also producing "considerably" more than they were licensed for, he added.

The statistics aren't always that high, Hewco admitted.

"I would be remiss to say 100 per cent are growing in violation, but many, many, many were over their allotment," he clarified.

On Feb. 17, Health Canada spokesman Gary Holub cited recent amendments to the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which allows police limited access to information.

"Amending the regulations will enable Canadian law enforcement to access limited information to prevent unnecessary law enforcement action," he relayed in an email.

"Information will be provided only in the context of a law enforcement activity, for example, if you are stopped in your car and marijuana is found in your possession or if the police visit your home in connection with a break and enter and discover marijuana."

That's not very helpful, according to Hewco.

"We're not apprised who is licensed until generally we're knocking on the door with a search warrant. We go through all these efforts and then knock on the door and they display a licence."

He said it remains an issue that is legislatively out of his control.

Coun. Al Siebring said the topic was broached at last year's Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention but was dropped because of potential privacy breaches that may result from Health Canada releasing the names of registered growers.

"There wasn't the will to do it because of privacy concerns," Siebring said.

Hewco said his concern isn't so much privacy, but what un-monitored grow-ops could mean for increased criminal activity.

"Organized crime is involved in this. Make no mistake," he said. "They're finding people out there that they get to obtain a licence to grow 10 marijuana plants, then grow 1,000 and reap the profit."

With finite resources, police are in the uncomfortable position of having to make tough decisions where to put their scant manpower.

"Crimes against persons take priority," he said. "How many policemen do I put on these grow shows that are licensed?"

Knowing who is legally entitled to cultivate the plant and then keeping an eye on them could go a long way, he said.

"Even if the police had inspection privileges to make sure they are growing within the law would be a step in the right direction."

In Canada, 3,576 people are currently allowed to produce marijuana for medical purposes, with about two-thirds of the licences granted to those in B.C. and Ontario.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Cowichan Valley Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Cowichan Valley Citizen
Contact: news@cowichanvalleycitizen.com
Website: Cowichan Valley Citizen
Details: MAP: Media Directory
Author: Sarah Simpson
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