HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html City Going Too Far
Pubdate: Wed, 07 May 2008
Source: Coquitlam Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008Lower Mainland Publishing Group, Inc.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Witch hunt. Police state. Overzealous. Heavy handed. All of these 
terms -- and probably a lot more we couldn't print -- are being used 
to describe the City of Coquitlam's approach to rooting out marijuana 
grow operations.

The city's public safety inspection team has certainly been busy. 
During the last six months of 2007, members inspected 128 homes that 
had been flagged because of high energy consumption -- finding 88 
grow-ops, 24 suspected grow-ops and 14 cases where a grow-op was not suspected.

In the first half of 2008, there have also been cases where 
inspections have yielded no evidence of a grow-op. The problem is 
that some of these homeowners are being asked to pay a $5,000 
inspection fee because the city found wiring or other faults.

It must be stressful enough to have a team of bylaw inspectors, 
firefighters and police officers show up at your home, search it and 
then plaster a bright red "do not occupy" notice on the front door -- 
as neighbours wonder what you've been up to.

But if a grow-op is not found, the matter should end there.

If the city is worried about lawsuits in case a wiring or other 
deficiency -- one that's not related to a grow-op -- causes a fire, 
bylaw officials could give homeowners a choice.

Either they sign a waiver absolving the city of responsibility or 
they have the problem fixed and pay an inspection fee. We're thinking 
something less than $5,000, which seems absurd. The whole point of 
these inspections should be to shut down grow-ops, not go on a 
fishing expedition for poorly wired homes.

And before the legalize-marijuana lobby starts writing letters about 
how the problem could be avoided if pot were legal, we agree.

Pot, however, is not legal. And illegal grow-ops pose a huge fire 
hazard. That means the inspection approach to shutting down grow-ops 
is a good thing -- when one key ingredient is factored in: common sense.
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