While some media outlets received a guided tour this week through a
medicinal marijuana grow operation in Queensborough, New Westminster police
haven't yet had the pleasure.

Staff Sgt. Casey Dehaas says police hope that the people running the
licensed Marijuana Factory will allow them a visit.

"We'd like to have a look at it - we'd like to see the licence permitted to
grow this and under what conditions," he said.

Up to 110 marijuana plants to be used for medical purposes will be grown by
three users licensed by Health Canada, say media reports.

Dehaas, meanwhile, says police have a lot of research to do.

He said Health Canada is bound by the privacy act, so won't tell police who
has received licences.

"That's going to be a real problem for us and for police across Canada. I
understand there was a case in Quebec or Ontario where the drug squad had
information - hydro rates, smell - and went to the JP for a warrant. The JP
asked what information you have that this is not a licensed, legal grow
operation - and the police didn't have any. So the JP said 'I can't give you
a search warrant then.' That might be appealed, but that's one of the
roadblocks we'll run into."

He said the conditions and rules of the licences will be important - will
they fit into local zoning bylaws, will they be safe - as will having
someone to oversee and enforce the conditions.

"Who's going to ensure the grow-op is a safe one - have they wired the
hydroponics up safely as we know fires occur?" Dehaas asks, adding that grow
operations damage houses in ways other than fire. "Do they have to inform
the landlord they're going to set up a grow operation which will probably
destroy the house?"

He also wonders if such operations would require a business licence.

"The city has a substance bylaw that prohibits any marijuana grows."

In July of 2001, New Westminster city council passed a bylaw to prohibit the
use of property for the trade, business or manufacture of controlled
substances.

It was aimed at marijuana grow ops, methamphetamine labs and crack houses.

Under the bylaw, if a property is used as a grow operation, the supply of
electricity, water or natural gas won't be reconnected and the property
can't be occupied until certain obligations are met. They include getting
inspections and permits and paying fees required to ensure the property is
compliant with the city's bylaws and any provincial statutes or regulations.

As for provincial regulations, children who are found in a residence used as
a grow operation can be seized by the provincial government.

Sgt. Ivan Chu of the police drug squad commented after a raid last year:
"The alarming thing is that a lot of the children being apprehended (from
grow operations) have severe allergies. It's a real health concern."

Overall, Dehaas says, police are trying to get some answers from Health
Canada as well as the federal justice department.

"There are a lot of unanswered question here; it goes on and on... We have a
lot of concerns for the community - safety of the community is our first
concern."

Pubdate: October 3, 2002
Website: http://www.royalcityrecord.com/
Address: 418 6th Street New Westminster, B.C., V3L 3B2
Contact: editorial@burnabynow.com