HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marijuana Stash Forces Cancellation Of Film Shoots
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 2004
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2004, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Jane Armstrong
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)

Marijuana stash forces cancellation of film shoots

Vancouver -- Its dorms once housed thousands of psychiatric patients. 
Later, those big, empty rooms made it a natural for TV and film shoots. 
Now, police say, British Columbia's most infamous ex-hospital was also a 
thriving marijuana grow-operation.

More than 500 carefully tended plants were found last weekend in the attic 
of the hospital-turned-film set where the popular TV series The X-Files was 
once filmed.

But last weekend, a crew of Mounties -- not actors -- were prowling the 
corridors of the former Riverview Hospital.

A security guard minding the building in the Vancouver suburb of Port 
Coquitlam came across the marijuana crop during a routine walk-through. He 
called the Mounties, who telephoned the landlord.

A spokesman for the B.C. Buildings Corp., which owns the building, said he 
was shocked to learn that one of the province's most popular film sites was 
cultivating B.C.'s most notorious export. "My reaction was disbelief," 
Denis Racine said. "How something like this could happen is beyond me."

Mr. Racine said the former hospital has been used exclusively for movie and 
television production since it closed in 1992. Its cavernous dormitories 
and miles of corridors made it a favourite for production crews.

For five years, it was the main indoor set for The X-Files until the 
television show moved its production to Los Angeles in 1998.

Mr. Racine said the former hospital has been booked solid the entire summer 
with four back-to-back feature film productions.

"It's ongoing all the time," he said. The building was booked yesterday for 
a film shoot, but now it's a crime scene. "We've had to call some companies 
up and tell them that they can't go in the building."

Mr. Racine said the drug raid is a big headache for business. "For the 
production company . . . they've probably been planning for this for months 
and months. And now they have to turn around and do something else."

Police say they're still investigating their discovery and don't know who 
planted the crop.

The former hospital once housed more than 4,000 psychiatric patients and 
had a staff of 2,000. By the 1990s, changes to Canada's mental-health 
policies meant that patients were treated in the communities, not 
institutions. The hospital closed in 1992.

Film and television production is a huge business in British Columbia; last 
year more than $1.4-billion was spent in the province. Unfortunately, 
marijuana is big business too. Police estimate that more than 2,100 
kilograms of pot were exported to the United States in 2003.

It's been a busy year for Mounties in the drug unit in Port Coquitlam, a 
bedroom community about 30 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Last winter, police seized more than 4,000 marijuana plants from six 
executive-sized homes. All six contained homemade bypass units for stealing 
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