HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Dope Growers Rip Off Public
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jul 2002
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2002 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Antonella Artuso


TORONTO -- Hydroponic pot growers are stealing as much as $500 million in 
electricity each year at an estimated cost to provincial consumers of $3 to 
$5 a month on their hydro bills.

Liberal MP Michael Bryant yesterday called for the provincial government to 
weed out these illegal pot labs which are increasingly found in residential 

"I think Ontarians would be rightly steamed to learn that while they're 
being asked to conserve electricity, some pot-growing energy thief next 
door is toking up all the electricity, causing brownouts and blackouts, 
driving up electricity prices, and sending the neighbourhood up in smoke," 

There are an estimated 10,000 illegal marijuana grow houses in the GTA alone.

Bryant said police in York Region estimate $70 million worth of electricity 
is stolen by grow house operators each year in that community.

Andrew Evangelista, counsel to the electrical distribution industry, said 
Markham shuts down five to 10 grow houses a week. He said grow houses have 
been found in every kind of neighbourhood and throughout the province.

Pot growers dig through the foundation of houses to tap directly into 
electrical wires, allowing them to get free power but also creating a 
dangerous fire hazard and a high risk of a neighbourhood blackout.

One grow house can use $2,000 worth of stolen electricity a month, and 
could generate about $1.6 million a year in profit for the grower.

Bryant said organized crime, especially biker gangs, runs many of these 
grow houses.
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