Pubdate: Thu, 29 Apr 2004
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Hank Daniszewski


Homes used for marijuana grow operations can turn into "toxic chemical
wastelands" -- and potential buyers should be warned, says London police
chief Murray Faulkner. Speaking to the Better Business Bureau's annual
meeting yesterday, Faulkner said real-estate agents should be concerned
about the soaring number of illegal home-grow operations in private homes.

London police have busted 182 home-grow operations in the last two years, he

In most cases, the homeowner didn't live in the house, but just used it to
grow pot.

Fire officials have noted home growers often bypass electricity meters,
creating a fire hazard. Large amounts of power are required to fuel lighting
for home grows.

Faulkner said the high humidity and strong pesticides used in the growing
process can cause health hazards.

"When that house goes back on the market, it is a toxic chemical wasteland
because of the pesticides used and the mould inside."

Across Ontario, home grows have become such a problem, the Ontario
Association of Chiefs of Police held a special summit on the issue in March.

Faulkner said one of the strategies considered at the summit was to require
home sellers to warn potential buyers the house was once used as a grow

Faulkner noted a similar warning was required years ago for homes with urea
formaldehyde insulation.

He said some Ontario municipalities are investigating the legalities of
making warnings mandatory and London police are watching.

"It's something that we are going to be examining because we think it's a
public safety issue," he said.

Faulkner also said he's concerned scandals now rocking Toronto's police
force will hurt the reputation of all police officers.

He said he's confident the public still has strong faith in the London
force, but is concerned about a spillover from the Toronto investigations.

"If the public reads something about the police, we are all painted with the
same brush," said the 30-year police veteran, recently named chief.

Four more Toronto police officers were slapped with charges Monday --
another black eye for a force recently stung by allegations of drug dealing,
money laundering and discreditable conduct.

Faulkner said Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino, once his boss as a former
London chief, will take swift action.

"He will root this out and will not stop until he is confident that everyone
involved is held to account."

Faulkner said police have always ranked near the top in surveys rating
public trust in professions.

But he noted in one poll last year, police dropped eight per cent in public
confidence and fell another point this year, putting them below 80 per cent
for the first time in 20 years.

"I will do everything to keep that trust above 80 per cent where it should
be," he said. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh