Pubdate: Tue, 13 Dec 2005
Source: Drumheller Valley Times (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Valley Printing & Publishing Ltd.
Author: Sarah Lynch, Valley Times staff writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Drug growing operations affect communities and increase criminal activity 
as well as gang presence.

That is why the Drumheller RCMP detachment held a special conference last 
Tuesday at the Civic Centre to alert local residents about how to spot a 
drug growing operation.

Dan Jakel, investigator and supervisor of the Calgary Drug Section, spoke 
about marijuana grow operations.

Jakel said that the method for growing indoor plants or hydroponics was 
discovered in the 1980s.

This enabled it possible to grow the substance in a controlled environment, 
creating better quality products.

The demand for the drug increased and by 1995 organized crime had 
monopolized 85 per cent of British Columbia's marijuana grow operations.

Jakel added that locations, such as houses and basements for these set-ups, 
create several health hazards.

Fires are common due to the unsafe pirating of power by illegal electrical 
bypass methods.  Seven out of 100 houses used for this reason are destroyed 
in fires.

Buildings contaminated with moulds caused from the high humidity required 
for growing hydroponics can cause respiratory malfunctions, especially in 
young children.

Once mold is present, the problem is never ratified, affecting future house 
owners of ex-marijuana greenhouses.

Marijuana plants require extreme levels of carbon dioxide.  Inhaling this 
chemical can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and even fainting.

Due to the harmful nature of the marijuana growers, increases in crime due 
to inter-gang relationships (dealing competition) occur, thus affecting 

A sophisticated, successful operation costs about $15,000 to $20,000 to set up.

Approximately 300 plants alone can retail between $100,000 and $1 million.

Upon comparing these amounts, the incentive for illegally growing dope is 
clearly the amount of money that can be made.

Jakel added that local residents can help to stop these illegal drug 
growing operations.

He said to look for windows covered up or lights that go on in dark houses 
at scheduled times of the day.

Often the houses are uninhabited, so take notice of flyers building up or a 
lack of garbage.

A strong, skunk smell would also be an indication of illegal activity.

Loud buzzing noises emitted from generators or fans may be audible from 
outside the building as well.

Watch for people entering and exiting through the garage door which may 
mean that the main entrances have been barricaded to prevent marijuana 
theft from other 'competititors'.

Once the RCMP's are notified, investigations could lead to the seizing and 
controlled incineration of plants.

Exposing an innocent child to these environments is a crime, but there are 
worse places they can be found.

Cst. Brad McIntosh of the Alberta Clandestine Laboratory team spoke about 
the making of methamphetamine and its effects on victims.

This destructive substance is commonly known as crystal meth, ice or speed.

This drug has been available since the 1800s and was said to be used by 
soldiers in the war because of euphoric effects it has on the brain.

However, this drug does not limit its effects to pleasant sensations.

Users can become hyperactive insomniacs, suffering from paranoia 
characterizing schizophrenia, often subjecting themselves to living in the 
dark because of their sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises.

A decrease or lack of appetite causes the meth victim's body to further 

Users become slaves due to the extremely addictive 'nature of the beast.'

Personalities are either distorted or erased by the drug, leaving desperate 
drug addicts behind.

Withdraw is savage, causing irratibility and violent behavior, and 
depression can last for years after heavy use.

Children are often neglected and left behind to suffer because their 
parents can't even look after themselves, let alone their kids.

McIntosh said that laboratories used to make methamphetamine are grungy and 
hazardous, run by completely unqualified chemists who merely know how to 
follow a recipe.

Cooking involves exposing flammable products to open fire and heat to get 
chemical reactions, using several different combustive agents, and also 
poisonous substances.
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