HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Lasqueti Island a Marijuana-Growing 'Mecca,' Police Say
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 2004
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Lasqueti Island has become a marijuana "mecca" where residents conduct 
business with pot instead of money, say Mounties newly determined to take 

On the weekend Mounties and federal drug enforcement officers busted an 
indoor/outdoor grow operation with 800 plants on Lasqueti.

In a press release issued Monday, RCMP said Lasqueti has become known as a 
"mecca for marijuana grow-ops" where locals admit to using marijuana 
instead of cash to conduct business.

The amount of marijuana grown on the island far exceeds the needs of the 
400 residents of Lasqueti, and the RCMP said it has intelligence suggesting 
organized crime is involved.

But the RCMP Oceanside detachment in Parksville has a new commander and 
complaints have been drawing new notice. The RCMP has called a town hall 
meeting for Wednesday on Lasqueti.

Const. Beth Blackburn, RCMP drug awareness service, said the Mounties have 
been, to some extent, ignoring Lasqueti. But that's changing.

"By our own admission we haven't paid enough attention to what is going on 
over there," said Blackburn.

"It just seems every time we go there we have more and more and more," she 
said. "Maybe it's time to pay a little more attention."

But longtime Lasqueti resident and admitted 40-year marijuana smoker 
Laurence Fisher said this new approach by the Mounties is just a big joke.

Fisher said the bust on the weekend took helicopters from the RCMP and the 
military. It even included a heavy-duty commercial chopper that looked 
really stupid lifting off with a tiny bundle of pot plants dangling 
underneath, he said.

But the wind wash from low-flying choppers was no joke. It smashed solar 
panels and terrified children and animals.

And all this air power was for a tiny island where it's difficult to hide 
anything, said Fisher, who fashions buttons and gifts for a living.

Fisher said the big-time marijuana grow ops are found in city houses. 
Big-time outdoor operations are planted in logging slash.

"By their own admission they get way more marijuana from other places," 
said Fisher. "But Lasqueti gets in their radar every time they want a 
little publicity," said Fisher.

"It's absolutely ludicrous, for God's sake," he said.
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