Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jan 2009
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Daniel Nolan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Hamilton police will examine an initiative where it can demolish homes
used for marijuana grow operations. The initiative, practised in
British Columbia and Niagara Falls, follows Councillor Terry Whitehead
telling the police services board about a home in an affluent part of
his west Mountain ward that sat vacant and boarded up after being used
as for a marijuana grow op a few years ago.

"It's a blight in the community and it stays there an indefinite
time," he said yesterday.

Whitehead said that in some cases, the homes can't be sold and are
owned by banks. He said banks might like a mechanism where the
building can be demolished.

Police and the Ontario government have used the Civil Remedies Act to
seize properties connected to grow ops or drug activity, such as the
Sandbar Tavern in 2006.

Deputy Chief Ken Leendertse said, since the start of this year, police
have already raided seven homes and seized $1.7 million worth of pot.
He supported Whitehead's suggestion, saying it might make banks and
landlords more careful about who they deal with in selling or leasing

"The idea of demolition, it sends out a message to the criminal
element, but it also makes other people pay attention," Leendertse

In a report, Police Chief Brian Mullan said grow ops in the city have
become more sophisticated, using more technological advancements, and
often are being operated by organized criminal networks. He estimated
there are hundreds of grow houses operating in the city.

The majority come to light either through anonymous tips to the police
from neighbours, landlords or concerned citizens. Others are uncovered
by police investigating a break-in or a fire. Between 2005 and 2008,
police executed search warrants at 225 homes and seized more than
71,000 pot plants.
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