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Marijuana boom too much for police: report

By Hempology | June 13, 2002

By Neal Razzell

CBC Radio News

Abbotsford, B.C. – A new study shows police are unable to keep up with the rapid growth of B.C.’s marijuana industry, despite stepped up enforcement.

Researchers from the University College of the Fraser Valley reviewed more than 12,000 police files.

“There has been an over 200 per cent increase in the number of grows in B.C. over the four-year window of ’97 to 2000, and worse, it’s everywhere,” says the report’s co-author, Professor Darryl Plecas.

The study shows police rarely seek out the illegal crops. Instead, they rely on tips, chance and luck.

Yvon Dandurand co-authored the report. “They are having a hell of a time responding to all the calls,” he says. “Many have waiting lists of actual cases.”

Dandurand says some officers say there’s no point arresting people who grow marijuana, because of they way they’re treated by the courts.

Of the 12,000 cases reviewed, just 2,500 led to convictions. Less than 20 per cent of those led to jail time, and when they did, it was usually for less than six months.

The report shows most of the illegal crops sprout along a narrow band stretching from Nanaimo to Chilliwack.

Police say report out of date

Vancouver Police say things in the marijuana business have changed since the report was done, and that the pot boom may be on the decline.

Sgt. Rollie Woods of the drug section, says the number of grow ops is way down this year.

“There are fewer tips coming into Crimestoppers, there are fewer tips coming into our own tips line, and fewer grows are being found by patrol officers during the course of other investigations,” he says.

Woods says a five-member team dedicated to grow ops has helped, along with a public relations blitz.

One of the report’s authors says he’d be impressed of police were catching even a quarter of B.C.’s illegal pot farmers.

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