Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2005
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005, Flamborough Post
Author: Megan Walchuk
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Outdoor Marijuana Plants An Annual Concern In Rural Areas, Say Police

Another marijuana grow operation has been found on an area farm. A 
half-dozen plants, roughly three feet tall, were recently reported to 
police by a Jerseyville Rd. farmer.

Outdoor grow operations are an annual concern for police - several 
are found each year across Flamborough, so police are asking farmers 
and residents to be on the lookout.

According to Constable Anna MacPherson of the Hamilton Police 
Services Vice and Drug Unit, the marijuana is typically planted 
between the rows of secluded corn fields, in the hope of harvesting 
before the unsuspecting farmer notices. Often, the culprits will cut 
down a circle of corn, planting marihuana in its place.

It's often planted in May, then left until September or October, when 
the plants can be up to seven feet tall, with two inch thick stalks.

There are advantages to outdoor grows, according to police. It 
doesn't require costly equipment or stolen hydro. There's no smell to 
alert the neighbours. The downside is the unpredictable weather. A 
home grow-op can yield three crops per year. The outdoors is limited 
to one, weather and farmers permitting.

Last year, only three grows were discovered, each thanks to the 
farmers themselves reporting strange activities on their fields. One 
was in Flamborough.

However, Hamilton police are looking forward to a much bigger bust 
this year, thanks to a partnership with the OPP. Armed with the OPP 
helicopter, both police forces will take to the skies for a Marijuana 
Eradication Day, later this summer. According to MacPherson, there 
are enough outdoor grow operations across Hamilton's rural region to 
keep police busy every day. They're easy to find - the distinctive 
plants are clearly visible from the air, she said. "They're even a 
different colour."

However, reaching the plants on the ground is a labour-intensive 
process, requiring officers to wade through thick, secluded fields, 
far from roads and paths.

Outdoor grows rarely lead to arrests, because the criminals don't 
frequent the spot. Even when someone is seen walking through, they 
may claim to just be out for a walk, or cutting the plants to take to police.

"There's no way to prove it," she said. To thwart the criminals, they 
confiscate the plants and file a report, in the hopes that locals 
will be on the lookout for suspicious characters prowling in the area.

Farmers and other rural citizens are asked to keep an eye out for the 
following on local fields:

Unknown vehicles parked on the side of the road for short periods

Footpaths not normally present

Open areas (allowing maximum sunlight), surrounded by large trees (to 
provide maximum cover)

Chicken wire, bamboo and other items on the side of pathways and trails.

Farmers are also asked to keep a close eye on their back 40.

To report suspicious plants, equipment, vehicles or cuttings, call 
905-546-3885. To report information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers 
at 1-800-222-TIPS.
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