RCMP report plunge in grow-ops due to bad weather, good policing

RCMP on Vancouver Island are touting the impact of bad weather on B.C.’s multibillion-dollar marijuana crop, but some observers say that optimism misses indoor harvesting, which is a substantial part of the industry.

“Most indoor crops are meant for B.C. and most outdoor crops are exported,” said marijuana advocate Jodie Emory. “The quality of indoor cannabis is better because you control the entire environment and make perfect growing conditions.

“Outdoors, you have the weather issues we’re seeing now.”

Her comments came after RCMP Corporal Darren Lagan on Vancouver Island reported police are finding significantly fewer marijuana growing sites this year during their annual campaign to wipe out the plants grown on remote Crown lands. Also, the plants they are finding are stunted, with fewer seeds.

The RCMP, working with municipal police in Victoria and Saanich, and assisted by the Canadian Forces in Comox, have destroyed 7,281 plants so far this year, a drop of more than 75 per cent from 30,072 plants in 2010.

“It was quite a surprise,” Cpl. Lagan said. “I’ve been doing this for five years and we have seen increases every year.”

Cpl. Lagan attributed the sudden decline in the number of plants to colder temperatures at the start of the growing season and effective policing.

The RCMP has a helicopter that flies up and down Vancouver Island in June and July in search of potential marijuana-growing operations. Several sites were found on slopes that were logged near streams in remote areas. The Department of National Defence provided additional helicopters and assisted police in dropping from the sky to the remote growing sites to destroy the marijuana plants. The size of the sites varied from 450 plants to less than 100 plants.

The RCMP believe they made a dent in the profitability of outdoor marijuana grow-operations last year, with the destruction of 30,000 plants. “We sent a very strong message – it is not going to be as easy as you thought. And we will be back,” he said.

But criminologist Neil Boyd of Simon Fraser University, who has written extensively on illegal drugs, said the police confidence overlooks the impact of indoor growing.

“What people are consuming is much more likely, in urban areas particularly, to be [from] indoor growers,” he said. “I would say the amounts grown indoors are likely greater than the amounts grown outdoors, which is how they can achieve the consistent potency.”

The RCMP itself has previously noted that indoor growing is key to the illicit industry. “Indoor production sites are more common” due to greater control over the environment, resulting in larger yields with more potency and greater privacy “to avoid law-enforcement detection,” said a 2009 report on Canada’s illicit drug situation prepared by the force.

Cpl. Lagan said no arrests have been made. “The unfortunate part is the noise [of the helicopter]. It is difficult to make a silent approach.” Even if they find someone nearby, it often proves difficult to tie them to the grow-op, Cpl. Lagan said.

The RCMP was unable to comment on the impact of the weather on growing elsewhere in British Columbia.

via : The Globe and Mail

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