Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2007
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Surrey Leader
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


I gather your parents never taught you that scratching a bug bite
makes it worse. ("Driving them out," Sept. 12).

In my day, hippies smoked low-grade Mexican weed, complete with seeds
and stems. When the U.S. all but closed the Mexican border,
traffickers switched to the Caribbean sea lanes. When the U.S. sprayed
Mexican fields with the herbicide paraquat, traffickers switched to
Colombian sources (and cocaine) and North Americans began to grow
their own higher quality cannabis.

When the police cracked down on the outdoor farms, the cultivators
moved indoors, adopted hydroponics and bred stronger strains.

A four-year study of police activity found that the number of grow ops
in B.C. is increasing by an average of 36 per cent a year, outpacing
efforts to close them down. According to the RCMP, the national annual
seizure average is about 1.3 million plants. This translates into an
annual production estimate ranging between 1,070 and 2,676 metric
tonnes of herbal cannabis.

Only 51 tonnes were seized in 2005, which works out to less than seven
per cent. As with wolves and their prey, police predation culls out
the weak.

Grow ops get bigger and growers become more "organized." Large busts
may cause other distribution networks to compete, sometimes violently,
for the unmet demand, or they may create openings for new, more
robust, distribution networks. When the methamphetamine labs move in,
we will miss the cannabis growers. When all goes as planned,
interdiction causes a localized shortage and subsequent rise in
cannabis prices. When the value of cannabis rises, the incentive to
grow and traffic rises.

Einstein defined insanity as continuing to do the same things and
expecting different results. Canadians should urge Ottawa to adopt
the recommendations of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs:
Legalize, tax and regulate the cannabis trade.

Matthew M. Elrod

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