Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2012
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Nanaimo Daily News
Author: Nick Wells


Cool weather, stricter amendments to Canada's criminal code and
dropping prices have slowed down the outdoor production of marijuana
on Vancouver Island this year.

According to data compiled by the RCMP, B.C. produced the most amount
of marijuana plants per grow-op, with an average of 918 plants.

While police could not comment, people involved in the industry say
this has been the third dismal production year in a row.

"A lot of plants went out early," said Ted Smith, who teaches a free
Hempology 101 course and recently published a textbook on the history
of hemp. "It wasn't until July that it really got warm."

Outdoor crops take a much longer time to grow on the Island, due to
the variety of temperatures and ecosystems.

A full crop of 900 plants can take months to cultivate outdoors,
compared to only six weeks for indoors.

As part of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, introduced in March
2012, trafficking marijuana now carries a minimum sentence of one
year. Possession for the purpose of trafficking also carries the same
minimum sentence.

"Anytime you're doing something in the open, you're taking more of a
risk," said Robert Payne, a medicinal pot advocate.

Payne says that guerilla farming still happens but that "Ma and Pa"
operations have been dying off as the financial incentive of selling
marijuana drops.

Prices for marijuana have dropped two thirds from the of the prices
seen in 2009, which has slowed peoples' desire to grow pot.

Buying a pound of pot, in bulk, costs $700 compared to a high of
roughly $2,000 seen only a couple years ago.

But according to Payne, the demand for pot remains strong in Nanaimo
with one medical dispensary operating downtown.

"There's been a couple of buyers clubs open up," said Payne. "We're
seemingly moving in the right direction of legalizing it."
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