HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Report
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Sep 2004
Source: Vaughan Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Vaughan Citizen.
Author: Martin Derbyshire
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Marijuana operations cost the public more than $100 million a year and
growing, according to Ontario's chiefs of police.

A report drafted by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
estimated clandestine drug production labs cost Ontarians as much as
$260 million from 2000 to 2003 and $100 million in 2002 alone.

"There's no way to specifically define or say exactly how much grow
ops have cost our economy, but we can estimate and do our best to
project the cost and we have found it is a very significant amount,"
said Joe Couto, association director of government relations and

Entitled, Green Tide: A report on the devastating effects of Marihuana Grow
Ops in Ontario, the report claims as much as 85 per cent of the financial
losses stem from the huge amount of electricity grow house operators steal.

Police estimate there are 15,000 grow ops across the province,
potentially producing more than 500,000 kilograms of marijuana and
generating as much as $5 billion in revenue every year.

Approximately 45 per cent of grow ops raided by police are found to be
stealing electricity. Distributors estimate each was ripping off
between $1,500 and $2,000 worth of electricity every month, placing
the estimated monthly cost of stolen electricity as high as $13.5 million.

That cost is directly passed on to consumers.

Plus, the OPP estimated each grow home costs about $8,500 to
investigate and dismantle, leaving taxpayers to pick up staggering law
enforcement bills.

York Regional Police drugs and vice Det. Don Cardwell said OPP figures
may even be a bit low, considering the local force is spending more on
marijuana grow investigations every year.

"These days, we're taking a lot longer to investigate them, maybe four
or five days on average and at least half a day to dismantle. The
costs add up. We have 10 officers working full time."

In York Region alone, 170 clandestine pot labs were raided by police
in 2002 amounting to about $1.45 million in estimated law enforcement
costs, using the OPP estimate.

Last year, the number of raids increased to 173 and an estimated cost
of $1.47 million.

Up to mid-August, 93 grows were busted this year adding up to $790,500
in estimated costs.

"There's a big misconception out there that this is all simple
possession .. (but) the costs to the general public are huge," Det.
Cardwell said.
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