Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 2010
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Nanaimo Daily News
Author: Dustin Walker


Police across Vancouver Island have begun their annual hunt for 
outdoor marijuana crops, which involves the use of military 
helicopters to weed out the illegal gardens.

Although the RCMP says it locates grow-ops year round, police 
normally step up their efforts in late summer when the plants are 
budding and may soon be harvested. An RCMP helicopter and two Sea 
King helicopters will be involved in the crackdown, which usually 
lasts a couple of weeks, said Comox RCMP Const. Tammy Douglas.

"There's a short window of opportunity," she said. "It's alarming how 
many plants are out there." Last summer, the RCMP reported they had 
seized about 29,000 plants on Vancouver Island, up from 23,000 the 
previous year.

One of the largest outdoor marijuana busts on the Island this summer 
was earlier this month near Fanny Bay. RCMP destroyed 1,032 plants 
and arrested six people at or near the site.

The majority of outdoor growing operations are located in remote 
areas, often requiring helicopter support, said Douglas.

Marijuana advocate Ted Smith, who teaches a course about cannabis in 
Victoria, said increased pressure from law enforcement and more 
people spending time in the backcountry has forced pot growers deeper 
into the bush. "Year after year the bush is becoming a busier place," he said.

Although the RCMP claim that cash made from selling marijuana on 
Vancouver Island fuels organized crime, Smith said many of the larger 
pot growers have left the area because of increased pressure from the 
public and police.
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