HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Green Behind The Tills
Pubdate: Mon, 26 Apr 2004
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Doug Beazley
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


Edmonton's reefer cops say they've noticed a weird trend in the local 
horticulture scene: a boom in the number of shops selling hydroponic 
equipment. It's all quite legal - as long as you're using the grow lamps 
and irrigation systems to grow strawberries, not marijuana.

But two members of the Green Team - the Edmonton Police Service/RCMP joint 
unit that goes after local marijuana grow operations - say the bloom in 
hydroponic sales operations probably suggests the black market in weed is 
expanding as well.

"We've seen a big increase in the number of these hydroponics shops in the 
last year," said city police Det. Clayton Sach.

"For the longest time there were just three operations selling the 
equipment. But in just the last year, we've seen three more shops open."

"We're too busy to keep an eye on them - we had three grow-op busts in just 
the past week. And what they're selling is completely legal," said Sach's 
partner, city police Det. Darren Derko. "We're a little concerned, yeah."

Sach said the increase in hydroponics shops, coupled with the fact that the 
Green Team's been busier than usual lately, suggests police are just 
scratching the surface.

"Looks to me like a lot more people are growing dope," he said. "It's a 
losing battle. The market's expanding, and we know there are a lot of 
consumers out there."

Marc Emery, West Coast marijuana magnate and president of the B.C. 
Marijuana Party, said he's heard Edmonton has a lot of hydro equipment 
shops for a city of its size.

"But we've got 40 hydroponic sales operations in the lower B.C. mainland 
alone," said Emery, who's made millions off his mail-order weed seed business.

He was speaking yesterday from the scene of a three-alarm fire in 
Vancouver's historic Gastown district, which gutted a marijuana 
paraphernalia shop and did roughly $25,000 in water and smoke damage to the 
neighbouring Marijuana Party HQ.

"The straight fact is that marijuana is the biggest black market on the 
planet. Everyone who grows keeps on growing, because the money's great.

"Prohibition keeps the price up - if weed was legal everybody would be 
growing it in their backyards."

A spokesman for one local hydroponic equipment shop said yesterday it had 
been in business for just a few months, but refused to answer any further 
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