The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police last month released a study (pdf) on “the detrimental effects of Marihuana Grow Operations” called Green Tide.
It’s a fairly silly report, presented with the seriousness of a major scientific study, with charts and graphs and tables and “upper confidence values” and endnotes and 59 pages, but it actually means very little.
I did enjoy the opening sequence that established in documentary style what a typical grow-op is like:
Typically, a person — usually with suspected ties to organized crime — will purchase or lease a residential dwelling in an urban centre with over 2,000
square feet and a price of $200,000 to $500,000. The dwelling will have an unfinished basement to facilitate wiring, a fireplace to vent the powerful odour of the marihuana, and an attached garage to conceal vehicles used to transport the harvested crops.
Once the dwelling is purchased or leased, a renovation crew makes structural changes to the dwelling, and installs heating systems, venting systems, and an electrical bypass to facilitate the theft of the electricity required for growing plants. Next, the growing equipment is moved in and set up. The
growing equipment typically includes, among other things, multiple ballasts to boost electrical power, 1000-watt lights to grow the plants, fans to cool the electrical circuitry, and litres of liquid nutrients, fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.
Once the operation is set up, a “crop sitter” — often a recent immigrant — with little or no knowledge of the rest of the operation is paid a nominal wage to water the plants and generally tend to the daily upkeep. To avoid eliciting suspicion by neighbours, the crop sitter will sometimes have his or her entire
family live in the dwelling. Periodically, a crew is sent in to harvest the marihuana and prepare it for sale and distribution.
Then it gets into the meat of the painstakingly researched data.
The study concludes that there were precisely between 2,276 and 11,380 grow-ops active in Ontario in 2003 (and that range is based on the scientific “police estimate” technique).
It estimates that 1.2 million plants were seized, and: “Grow ops in Ontario may produce and house between approximately 127,000 and 1.2 million kilograms of marketable marihuana and related product over the 2000-2003 period.” They also note that marihuana from grow-ops could be worth as much as $1.2 billion or perhaps $12.4 billion (note they seemed to come up with 1.2 a lot).
The study then goes into the costs to Ontario from grow-ops, including theft of electricity (“grow ops will have stolen between approximately $16 and 160 million in electricity over the 2000-2003 period”), law enforcement costs (such as jailing those caught), dismantling costs, etc.
It concludes that grow ops may cost Ontario as much as $260 million over the 2000-2003 period.
The report recommends:
In sum, investigations that further law enforcement’s understanding of the connection between organized
crime and grow ops are required. This will allow police to target the root cause of grow ops and
encourage justice system personnel to seek tougher sentences.
Of course, this comes out of the blue without any support from data, nor any indication that such a course of action would have a positive impact.
“bullet” What makes this study so funny is that every single negative factor could be completly eliminated with one move:
Follow the recommendations of the Senate and legalize marijuana.