Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2008 Florida Today


Legislature Should Impose Stiffer Laws On Grow-House Operators to
Protect Public

Many local businesses are in a slump, but it's boom times for pot
growers up and down the Space Coast, where area law enforcement broke
up dozens of marijuana grow houses last year.

And the busts just keep happening.

Last week it was a monster operation containing more than 1,200 plants
found in Grant-Valkaria.

Specially built, the grow house was pimped out with several
air-conditioning units, a large generator, special electrical wiring
and devices to rip off juice from Florida Power and Light.

Two more busts of grow houses in Titusville this week involved fewer
plants and less sophistication, but both reflect a statewide trend in
which drug entrepreneurs grow pot in houses in quiet neighborhoods.
Sometimes bringing with them gang-related gun battles -- as happened
in Melbourne last year.

That's why a bill in the Legislature cracking down on grow-house
operators is timely.

It lowers from 300 to 25 the number of plants needed for a stiff drug
trafficking charge. If children are living in the house, it makes the
penalty an automatic first-degree felony.

The measure also makes it a felony for anyone to knowingly provide a
house for pot-growing purposes.

The tougher penalties will keep criminals who endanger public safety
behind bars longer, and should be approved.
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