Marijuana grow-ops and their neighbours

At the Liberal Party of Canada’s  national policy convention last weekend, 77 per cent of delegates voted in favour of a youth wing resolution to legalize marijuana.  In part, the vote reflects frustration  that our expensive yet half-hearted efforts at prohibition leave  communities exposed to  unreasonable risk.

Despite ongoing efforts to identify and shut them down, we had an estimated 18,000  illegal indoor marijuana grow operations in summer 2011 in British Columbia alone [Globe and Mail real estate section link, now deleted].  In other words, about one in every 120 dwellings shelters a grow-op.  A 2004 publication for Canadian realtors lists the costs for the wider community: a heightened risk of structural fires, chemical spills, increased violent crime and property crime, and the signficant theft of electric power, which BC Hydro values at $100 million per year in this province.  This is aside from the costs imposed on individuals when they unwittingly purchase a former grow-op.  Continue reading