Pubdate: Tuesday, November 16, 1999
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 1999, The Toronto Star
Page: A9
Author: Roberta Avery, Special to The Star


ORILLIA - The Ontario Provincial Police seized tens of millions of dollars
worth of high-grade marijuana in 1999 destined for the streets of Toronto
and other major centres.

The OPP, in co-operation with the RCMP and municipal police forces, is
reporting a record seizure throughout the province this year of 110,385
marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $120.7 million, said
Detective Inspector Jim Hutchinson of the OPP's drug enforcement section.

The largest seizures came in the eastern region of the province, in the
Smiths Falls area, where more than 41,000 marijuana plants - worth $68.8
million - were discovered. In Orillia-area cottage country, marijuana
seizures topped $20 million.

While some pot is sold locally, the majority was destined for bigger
cities, where it often ends up in schoolyards, Hutchinson said.

In the 1970s, pot grown in Ontario had levels of the active ingredient THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol) as low as 2 per cent - making it a product that was
not in demand. Today the Ontario crop has THC levels of as high as 14 per
cent, comparable to the high grades from Mexico.

In 1998, also a record year, 52,383 plants with an estimated street value
of $49 million were located and destroyed.
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