Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
Source: Midland Mirror (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Midland Mirror
Author: Janis Leering


If there are any marijuana growing operations in North Simcoe, the police
haven't heard about them yet.

Const. Greg Chinn, community relations officer with the Southern Georgian
Bay OPP, said if police knew of any local grow houses, they'd be busting

"I wouldn't say we know of any that we're watching, because if something
came in, we'd be taking some action," said Chinn. "There could potentially
be lots of growing houses in the area, but we don't know about them."

He said police in the area don't often hear about large growing operations.
Chinn said the last one the OPP came across was at a home in Georgian Bay

"We were investigating a break and enter into a cottage, and found marijuana
growing inside. There have been other homes too, but we usually don't find
marijuana growing commercially, like at the Molson plant."

Chinn said, even if a person was growing a small amount of marijuana for
personal use, it is still illegal.

"Possession is illegal, no matter what. But usually, someone growing it
commercially will be in production for trafficking, rather than growing it
for an individual."

Chinn said while the Huronia Combined Forces Drug Unit does help solve many
drug crimes in the area, sometimes drugs, such as marijuana, are discovered

"Normally, we rely on informants, whether it's someone disgruntled, or
someone in the loop who doesn't condone drug use."

Police have also discovered drugs when responding to other calls, such as a
domestic dispute, fire or a break and enter.

While some marijuana growing operations may be created using store-bought
hydroponic items, Chinn said making the equipment illegal won't stop people
from growing pot.

"If the equipment wasn't available, it would make it more difficult for
individuals to start a growing operation. But hydroponics are used for
growing a lot more than just illegal substances. As police, I can't see us
ever saying that (banning the items) would be a way of curbing grow

Chinn did say there are certain signs people can look for when wondering if
their neighbour has a grow operation inside.

"In a home, the windows are usually covered a lot of the time. If it's an
older home, and if it's being grown on a larger scale, the heat that's
generated will leave the roof bare of snow."

Chinn also said neighbours should watch a home to see if it is empty most of
the time.

"Usually, a grow house only requires someone to go in once a week for
watering. Some of the more elaborate operations will even have a timer
system for lights and an irrigation system."

A common occurrence is that the criminal will bypass hydro meters, but Chinn
said, as long as he or she is paying a hydro bill, there's not much
suspicion from the utility company.

"Most times, the neighbours don't know there's a growing operation in the
area, and that's what the criminals want. They want to blend in, and not
draw any attention."

Det. Const. Chris Quesnelle, with the Midland Police Service, said
suspicious residents can also look to see how much condensation is on the

He agreed people should keep an eye out for the occupants of the home,
because if the driveway's not shovelled, and the lights are out for a long
period of time, it may be time to call police. "In a newer house, you won't
see any traffic of people going in and out of the house. You may see people
periodically, but not like you would normally expect," said Quesnelle.

He said the sound of fans may also be heard coming from the home, and
depending on the ventilation system, there may also be marijuana smells
coming from the house.

As a member of the Huronia Combined Forces Drug Unit, Quesnelle said they
busted approximately 15 homes in Midland for growing marijuana last year.
"They were not large growing houses, those busts normally have 20 to 150

Quesnelle has been on the Huronia Combined Forces Drug Unit for seven
months, and said they all work together, and share information, to
investigate drug crimes.

If you have suspicions about a growing operation in your area, call Crime
Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, Midland Police at 526-2201, or the OPP at
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