Shedding Some Light on Our Pot Laws

The Conservative government and the Liberal-dominated Senate may find this a buzz-kill but a drug expert says neither of their approaches to prosecuting pot producers makes sense.

Earlier this year, MPs passed a drug bill that included a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail for growing as few as five pot plants. Drug reform advocates slammed the legislation as draconian. Then the Senate began pruning the bill and just passed an amended version.

The rewritten bill would spare pot growers an automatic jail term unless they’re caught cultivating more than 200 plants. The Senate has now punted the legislation back to the House of Commons where it could be gutted and redrafted.

Meanwhile, pot producers will merrily continue running their grow-ops and raking in astronomical amounts of tax-free money, people will continue smoking pot and getting cravings for the munchies and Canadians will continue wondering if all politicians are spaced out.

(In other words, are pot grow-ops a national priority compared to, say, joblessness, a floundering economy, a teetering health-care system or how we’re going to afford to repair our crumbling infrastructure?)

But if our politicians insist on focusing on pot grow-ops, our laws should at least reflect the reality of marijuana cultivation.

That is, legislation should be based on the number of lights, not plants, says Darryl Plecas, director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Research at the University of the Fraser Valley.

One 1000-watt bulb will produce a pound of dried bud no matter how many plants you have, he explains. If one grower has one plant under one light, he’ll produce one pound of pot. If he’s got 16 plants under one light (the typical scenario), he’ll still only end up with one pound of bud. The 16 plants just won’t grow as high.


Growers will simply adjust their cultivation patterns to reflect what’s in the legislation, says Plecas. “The Senate could not have gone further to perpetuate the number and problem of grow operations.”

Over the next couple of years, growers will just shift the way they operate — fewer plants but more lights, he explains. “Why would somebody need to have 200 plants?”

And more lights will mean more theft of electricity and an increasing likelihood of fires, says Plecas.

B.C. criminology student and medical marijuana patient Brian Carlisle, who has helped Plecas with his research, began experimenting with plants and light several years ago.

He says he was shocked to find out that it didn’t matter how many plants he grew. One bulb over six plants, for instance, produced the same amount of pot as one plant under one bulb. The number of lights, therefore, is the most accurate way to determine the production level of an indoor grow-op, says Carlisle.

“I think (politicians) are being fed incorrect information,” he says.

Plecas says the legislation should have ignored the number of plants and set jail terms for more than five lights.

“Once you get beyond five lights … it’s clearly more than can be consumed for personal use.”

How times have changed. Remember when a Senate committee recommended that pot be legalized?

– Article from Edmonton Sun.



  1. o on


    the google earth truck thing got my plants on film.

    you can’t see them – they have been digitally destroyed

    but yeah – the goog knows i grow in my window

    how cool is that …


  2. matty on

    come on look at the retarded positions our rcmp are at; my friends grandmother was busted for one plant in her living room and given a $2000 fine and she can no long legaly see her grandchildren, while 2 doors down from her house is a meth/crack shack that our rcmp say theres not enough evidence to raid, and its destroying our small town! THE CONSEVATIVES ARE STUPID!!! thank god i didnt vote for them….

  3. Anonymous on

    Anyone who even suggests the government should give jail time to cultivating 1 plant or 1000 plants is a GOOF. How about mandatory sentences for animal cruelty, b&e, robbery, fraud, assualt, etc. Growing cannabis, any amount, should not be punished.

  4. Anonymous on

    It does make sense to base the size of the operation on the amount of light for sure but I think they should go one step further. They should legalize cannabis for personal use and make 1500w of light the maxium size a personal use garden can be. Any garden employing more then 1500w considered for illegal production for the purpose and then throw the book at them as if every adult could grow there own the majority of pot grown for comercial sale would be going to minors who couldnt get away with growing it in there parents home or to people who are not willing to do the work themselves . I say if your to lazy to grow your own then you should do without its not like its hard and if the only hurdle to making it legal for personal use was that we had to grow our own then so be it. I would be more then willing to support the minumum max sentences for people who are running big grow operations .

  5. Anonymous on

    number of lights? what about the sun? if they wanted to somehow regulate the number of plants by introducing a law (which doesnt work by the way) they should do it by the amount of space, say 5 square meters. if you were to do it by the number of lights id grow a couple hundred plants in my back yard cause there would be no lights

  6. Pedro on

    Canada’s Conservative Justice-Minister is a former Catholic school-trustee whose Intolerance & Punishment mentality wants to put people he & his cronies don’t like into Prison-Detention

  7. Anonymous on

    While the US is opening up the med weed market Canada is introducing mandatory sentences. Harper just doesn’t know which way the wind is blowing. That’s why he was teased in high school and college and he still is today. He does the exact opposite of what a normal person would do.

  8. Anonymous on

    How come even the oppressive USA has a freer medical Cannabis climate than Canada? Why aren’t the provinces passing medical Cannabis laws like California, where everybody with a good imagination qualifies? Why is Canada being left out of the booming green economy? I thought Canada’s role in the world was to faithfully imitate whatever the USA does. Canada is falling behind in the medical Cannabis trade, WAY behind. Why is Canada being left out of the med pot bonanza?

  9. renney b. on

    as you rightly say, it is all about the almighty dollar; it does not matter how politicians, lawyers, doctors and police make their money… to me they are like hovering above the food chain and once in a while seek out the weakest prey… this time they are dead wrong, cannabis and the cannabis culture will not be defeated… we are on the side of the tree of life and we will never be put to shame… jesus was a herbalist and he used the holy cannabis oil of moses and the prophets to heal the sick, feed the hungry, give sight to the blind, teach the people the wisdom of peace and love and happiness… this great spiritual movement has been persecuted for so many thousand of years; it is time this generation see the light and embrace the truth… the love of the tree of life is more important than mammon but, this present world government system is still destroying the planet with a world war on cannabis / hemp… jack herer’s book ,’the hemperor wears no clothes ‘ is modern day facts that teaches us of the multipurposes of cannabis/hemp… as bob marley ask, ‘ why they say we should not use herbs?’ and again ‘ herbs is good for so many things…’ as it draws close to the end of another year; my heart and prayers go out to all the good soldiers past, present and future as we continue the fight to set our plants and our people free… long live jack herer, the cannabis culture, the medicinal marijuana mission so many groups working to end prohibition in these last days… have a merry christmas and a happy new year,from; renny b.

  10. Dave on

    Our people don’t belong in jails! Are you one of those weak-in-the-head-freaks? Do you see but don’t acknowledge the pain you cause?

    How many Canadians and American will hurt others or die, over the Holidays, because of alcohol; their drug of choice? And finally, what is your drug of choice? I’d say by your comments, it’s alcohol isn’t it?

  11. Anonymous on

    I would suggest that they go even further and base jail terms on the amount of watts rather than number of lights.

  12. Dave on

    I kind of agree but I need to remind myself that there isn’t an actual conspiracy! Simply like minded people who think they are doing the right thing. I don’t think they know any better? Should we forgive or prosecute?

    I once thought, if we could shine a light on prohibition they will see the truth! But they don’t and we don’t see them as stupid so we suspect conspiracies.

    I think it’s more like using a cell phone while walking. They see but don’t acknowledge because they have something else on their minds. If that’s the case then the question is, how do we take them out of their trances so they can clearly see and acknowledge the harm they are causing.

    On the other hand, we shouldn’t discount those weak-in-the-head-freaks who have been brainwashed. No matter what, they will still think they are doing the right thing. They are probably the ones who still refuse to acknowledge same-sex-marriages?

    Am I confused? YES, but more like confounded!

  13. Sick of them All on

    … they’re working FOR the illegal drug industry. Every single elected official, law enforcement officer, and drug rehab specialist who supports prohibition of drugs is simply supporting the drug cartels and other organizations (that is, unless all the organizations work for the elected officials).

    Those of us who look at prohibition and its proponents and scratch our heads wondering WTF is wrong with those people and why their actions seem so backwards need to realize the truth. They’re all corrupt. They’re all working together. And they keep drugs illegal because they’re all getting rich at the expense of the rest of us, whether we use illegal drugs or not.

    Once people realize the truth: that the problem isn’t prohibition or drugs, the problem is the game that’s being played on the public by corrupt politicians, cops, rehab groups, anti-drug groups, and drug cartels – then things might change. Maybe.

    What is sickening and perhaps ironic in this whole charade is that you have “honest” politicians and “trusted” cops out there calling drug users criminals, but all the while it’s the corrupt politicians, cops, and others who are the real criminals.

    When is the world going to wake up to this? It’s a pity. In my opinion, the war on drugs is nearly as bad as the hell that Hitler brought to the world. It’s sick and disgusting.

  14. Anonymous on

    The victims of alcohol-induced violence would like to see the alcohol manufacturers face the same consequences as marijuana manufacturers. Deaths from alcohol are skyrocketing in BC due to the provincial Liberals pro-alcohol ideology. Innocent people should not die because of ideology. The only solution is tough criminal legislation against alcohol. Nobody’s dying from marijuana, so why are these politicians ignoring the real problem in which innocent citizens are truly victimized? The powers that be should be doing something concrete about violent crime, not promoting and condoning it by their refusal to deal with the number one drug problem in British Columbia today.

  15. Anonymous on

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for years. Limit the amount of power (lights) and size of room one can utilize for growing for personal consumption. Any proof of trafficking outside the home is an offense.

    Ensure electical systems get inspected and the danger is eliminated, less money goes to the greedy commercial grower/gangbangers, garden shops get more revenue and……the big one, no more ridiculous amounts of money to jail non violent pot users.

    Oh yea….Harper and his fucken diciples have their heads so far up their ass they will never hear or even see the logic of this way of thinking. All while their idols down south are going in the opposite direction.