HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Kids Protected From Grow Ops
Pubdate: Wed, 01 Nov 2006
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Calgary Herald
Author: Emma Poole, Calgary Herald
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Youth)


One week after three Calgary children were found living in a home used
as a marijuana grow op, a law enabling police to charge unfit parents
for exposing their kids to drugs comes into effect.

Under the Drug Endangered Children Act, officers can seize kids found
in narcotics situations, as well as charge the family members who put
them in harm's way.

"It gives us another tool in our belt to penalize people," said Staff
Sgt. Monty Sparrow of the Calgary police drug unit.

In an interview Tuesday, Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth,
who spearheaded the law, said officers across the province are seizing
children every day from homes where adults are cooking, growing and
producing illegal drugs.

"The law is clear and concise and makes it clear that children who are
involved in these situations are abused," said Forsyth.

"It recognizes that these children are victims and need protection."

The law allows authorities to seize children for up to two days.

Last Wednesday, three children were found to be living in an Applewood
home where marijuana was being grown. One was a preschooler.

Police say the basement of the home had been converted into a
157-plant grow op. It was producing toxic fumes, which were being
vented through the closet of the upstairs master bedroom into the attic.

A crib where the youngest slept was less than a metre from the closet,
said Sparrow. Several chemicals were also found in the home.

The discovery, he added, is a "perfect example" of why the new
legislation is necessary.

Sparrow said the biggest concern is for kids in homes where pot is
being grown, where cocaine is being cooked to make crack or where
marijuana oil is being produced.

Children exposed to toxins from these processes are found to suffer
from medical problems such as chronic respiratory illnesses,
neurological damage and cancer.

Staff Sgt. Jim Rorison of the child abuse unit said officers in
Calgary have already received training on enforcing the new law.

The charge -- wilfully causing a youngster to be a drug-endangered
child -- carries a maximum fine of $25,000 or 24 months in jail.

Forsyth modelled the new legislation after several similar laws in the
United States.

The minister said she expects the legislation will prompt more people
to report this type of abuse to police.
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