Pubdate: Sat, 18 Dec 2004
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


 From the start, there's always been a whiff of amused indifference wafting 
from the massive pot bust at the old Molson plant.

It's as if people are saying it's no big deal because, after all, it's only 
pot. And everyone knows that we Canadians, even the conservative ones, are 
much too liberal to get all that uptight about someone growing, or smoking, 

While police and society have more pressing drug problems than marijuana, 
the 'Molson' bust was no 'grow-your-own' operation. It was big business - 
big criminal business.

Estimates of revenue from the biggest grow-op bust in Canadian history come 
in around $60 million a year. That's significant coin, representative of a 
sophisticated, organized operation. It wasn't a 'mom-and-pop' franchise.

Police maintain those arrested in connection with the bust were merely the 
'farm workers,' and that the big cheese who organized and controlled the 
cultivation will likely never be found. And while the 'high by the highway' 
may have been the largest pot-production factory, it's by no means the only 
one. Grow-ops are hidden in well-to-do subdivisions across the province and 
country, their inner workings invisible to passersby going about their 
daily business. They are not harmless. Shoddy wiring to avoid detection 
leaves them potential firetraps, while lost revenue from stolen hydro that 
powers them is recouped by utilities through higher rates to Mr. and Mrs. 

In a Barrie court last week, a judge gave seven men sentences ranging from 
two years of house arrest to five years in prison. He said he wanted to 
send a message of deterrence through the sentences. Whether or not the 
sentences are stiff enough to do that remains to be seen. One could opine 
that five years, of which only two thirds is served, measured against the 
possibility of making millions from large-scale pot production, is a risk 
many will be willing to take.

It has been suggested that the 'farmers' of the 'Molson' pot bust have 
become some sort of 'local heroes.' That's an obscene misuse of the term. 
Police will also tell you this is not only about marijuana. It's about 
crack and guns. The pot goes south, and the crack and guns come north, 
ending up in cities like Barrie. Suddenly, it doesn't seem so amusing.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has indicated he intends to pursue 
decriminalization for possession of small amounts of pot. We support this 
initiative. Police and court time is tied up busting and trying occasional 
pot smokers, when it could be diverted to tackling serious drug issues: 
crack cocaine, the increasing use of crystal meth, and grow-ops.

There's very little connection to occasional smokers and large-scale 
grow-ops, which harvest products for export. It's big business, and there's 
nothing funny about it.
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