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Police start crackdown on outdoor pot grow-ops

By admin | August 27, 2010

Dustin Walker, The Daily News
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010

Police across Vancouver Island have begun their annual hunt for outdoor marijuana crops, which involves the use of military helicopters to weed out the illegal gardens.

Although the RCMP says it locates grow-ops year round, police normally step up their efforts in late summer when the plants are budding and may soon be harvested. An RCMP helicopter and two Sea King helicopters will be involved in the crackdown, which usually lasts a couple of weeks, said Comox RCMP Const. Tammy Douglas.

“There’s a short window of opportunity,” she said. “It’s alarming how many plants are out there.” Last summer, the RCMP reported they had seized about 29,000 plants on Vancouver Island, up from 23,000 the previous year.

One of the largest outdoor marijuana busts on the Island this summer was earlier this month near Fanny Bay. RCMP destroyed 1,032 plants and arrested six people at or near the site.

The majority of outdoor growing operations are located in remote areas, often requiring helicopter support, said Douglas.

Marijuana advocate Ted Smith, who teaches a course about cannabis in Victoria, said increased pressure from law enforcement and more people spending time in the backcountry has forced pot growers deeper into the bush. “Year after year the bush is becoming a busier place,” he said.

Although the RCMP claim that cash made from selling marijuana on Vancouver Island fuels organized crime, Smith said many of the larger pot growers have left the area because of increased pressure from the public and police.

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