Legal Grow-ops Could be Safety Hazard: Fire Chiefs

Medical marijuana may be legal, but the way some approved Canadian growers are producing their pot is not, say fire chiefs in the country’s two most prolific weed-producing provinces.

More than 3,400 production licences have been issued to grow medical marijuana across Canada, two-thirds of them in Ontario and British Columbia.

Fire chiefs associations in those provinces say Health Canada’s secretive permit process and refusal to bring in better regulations for growers put lives and health at risk.

“There’s no instruction manual on how to build a grow op. So they give you this licence to produce, you know 100 plants or 75 plants, but they don’t tell you how to do it safely,” said Jim Jessop, the Niagara Fall’s assistant fire chief who speaks for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs on the issue.

Jessop said he’s walked into Health Canada-approved grow operations where the wiring was bad, volatile chemicals were improperly stored and, in one instance, a powerful hydroponic light ballast was starting to char the floor.

“I’ve actually had to remove children from one of them. It was so unsafe,” he said.

Health Canada has refused to give locations of the grow operations to fire or police officials, citing privacy concerns.

When the federal agency issues a licence, the grower must abide by all applicable federal, provincial, territorial and municipal legislation, such as building codes and electrical hook-ups.

The issue of safety isn’t probed on the Health Canada application, although a grower must give a detailed account on the form of security measures and how they will protect their crop from loss or theft.

Len Garis, chief of the Surrey, B.C., fire department, said his firefighters have stumbled upon nine legal grow ops in the city through the same process used to shut down illegal operations – either the home was using three times the normal limit of power or police have been tipped to a potential grow site.

“Four of the nine we disconnected anyway because they had no permit, the electrical systems were altered and (their system was) so shoddy that they weren’t safe, so we shut them down,” said Garis, who is also the spokesman for the Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia on the issue of marijuana grow operations.

Both the Ontario and B.C. associations say they’ve lobbied Health Canada asking for help in improving safety.

“We sent a number of briefs to Health Canada, asking them to just do one simple thing, as a condition of permit, make sure that zoning, electrical safety, fire safety is all taken into consideration with these locations, prior to issuing the permit,” Garis said.

David Thomas, with Health Canada, said their inspectors have the authority to conduct inspections for compliance.

“To conduct these inspections, Health Canada inspectors must have the occupant’s consent to enter the dwelling-place or a warrant issued by a Justice …” Thomas said in an email response to questions.

The associations argue allowing the legal operations to be inspected would be safer for the grower and those around them.

Jessop said he has met with federal government ministers and staff to explain the problem and ask for help.

“They’ve acknowledged that there’s no process in place to teach people how to wire these buildings properly, how to vent them properly, how to make sure they’re fire safe,” Jessop said.

Trevor Bain, with Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal, said Health Canada has said keeping the locations secret will prevent legal grow operations from being raided by criminals trying to steal their marijuana.

“I can understand the need to protect them in that sense,” Bain said. “But at the same time what about the first responder, what about the neighbour? Shouldn’t we have a system in place that protects everyone?”

Garis said Surrey firefighters have been called out to fires only to find themselves attempting to fight flames while they stumble through a maze of electrical wires in a smoke-filled grow-op. He said some crew members have been shocked by faulty wiring.

Those issued grow permits are either growing for themselves or for someone who needs medical marijuana to relieve the symptoms of their illness.

Jessop believes a license to grow should be treated like any other license, such as a hair salon, which would need approval before it’s allowed to start operation.

“The federal government should not issue these licenses to produce marijuana until the local authorities have inspected the set up to make sure it complies will all municipal and provincial bylaws.”

Thomas said Health Canada is trying to find a balance between helping seriously ill people and providing adequate regulatory control.

“The department is working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs to determine how best to address the risks that may be posed by licenses grow operations.”

– Article from CTV News.



  1. Anonymous on

    This is one more reason why the whole issue of medical marihuana should be removed from the jurisdiction of health Canada.The whole system put in place is the result of Health Canada employees pretending to know about medical cannabis.Who in his right mind can grow medical marijuana in an abandoned mine pith where day light never reached the plants? Only,Health Canada of course.Leave medical marijuana to provincial and municipal govt.

  2. Anonymous on

    What is missing from all this is the fact that these are not large grows like Garis tries to compare them to. He uses horror stories of several plant grows to compare with 5-20 plants grows. What about other not pot small number plant growers? So if you for instance were someone that decides to use a 600W halide bulb to start some tomatoes early in your house do you now need a special zoning and permit to grow them in your house? Lee Valley tools sells such lighting setups and they are not aimed at medical growers of pot.

    If Garris is allowed to do this, we all know how this will end up. He wants make the issuance of a growing license to be based on getting permits from municipalities. And Garis knows that then all they have to do is drag their feet and never issue permits to stop it all. Effectively stepping around the court cases judgment that there must be a legal way for medical users to grow their own pot. Make no mistakes about it Garris is a prohibitionist dressed up like a fire marshal. After all where is his new campaign to teach people the safe use of barbecues, since under his own nose(surrey) it was the cause of a recent huge condominium fire.

    If there were such a thing as a good journalist out there, they would take a recorder out there, pose as a “concerned conservative possibly religious” citizen and lead the conversation to get his true opinion of medical marijuana. What I am sure would come out is that he is against it for reasons far removed than safety. He is one of many opportunistic prohibitionists. Probably drinks alcohol like fish, but hey thats legal and so very good for you LOL

  3. Anonymous on

    that comment is like so perfect lmfao
    so ridiculous…

  4. Anonymous on

    I don’t know where you got your information but Greenhouse Seed Company doesn’t have any auto flowering strains. Their all feminzed strains. Although your right that feminized strains, and auto flowering strains fuck up the original characteristics of the plant.

  5. From the 70s on

    Do we still have so-called “wet” fire stations in BC or all they all “dry” now ? Perhaps the Fire Chiefs could handle that issue …

    There should be a zero tolerance for drunk fireman like drunk cops.

  6. Mexican God on

    Another thing I should point out, is that this retard claiming to be from the mexica movement pretending cannabis is originally native mexican/american and didn’t originate in europe/asia, will only enforce what prohibitionists originally claimed.

    Originally weed became illegal by the government/anslinger saying that it’s from mexico and gives mexicans super strength and makes them insane and dangerous. Sound familiar? Maybe the “mexica movement” tard is really just a white supremacist pig since he’s spewing out more government propaganda.

    If white people knew that cannabis was part of their heritage it might be easier to legalize it. Instead tards like this one continue spreading the propaganda.

    Another thing, I don’t see why this is an article in the first place. Whoever posted it was just waiting for the obvious response of “if it were legal it wouldn’t cause any fires” because that’s true. What’s done on this site is just repeating the same stuff that stoners can agree with. Marc did some good, why can’t anyone else do some instead of just posting the same stuff over and over? Reminds me of the shroomery, which is owned by an evil zionist ashkenazi jew named Ythan Burstein. He likes to post articles drug users can agree with on the internet, but never encourages them to actually change the laws. I think he works with the DEA as well, a dickhead like him probably would.

  7. Mexican God on

    “one more thing weed, was here long before you shit heads showed up? over 15,000 years you spainish didnt bring shit execpt there dumbasses!! Get it europe you didnt bring shit to the new world let along the PLANT you didnt it was here already, IT STARTED HERE and we spraed it around the world!!, and YES we have the BOOKS to back it up? what you didnt know you shits missed one libery to boot, but you will all fine out this year what they said, well at least from the weapons part of the books?”

    No one claimed it was brought over by the spanish. Ironically it was brought over by the US government originally. If you’re actually mexican then you’re probably part spanish like the majority of mexicans. Only a few are pure blooded native like the Oaxacans(myself), so you’ve lost most of your history.

    Now you can pretend you have a secret library where they explain that cannabis is originally from the americas and you can pretend that ancient mexicans were given super advanced alien technology/weapons, or whatever other fantasy you come up with while huffing paint and sniffing glue, but anyone that does the real research is going to know you’re a delusional idiot.

    Cannabis is originally a eurasian plant species, and “the great spirit” didn’t magically fart you into existence, native americans originally come from asia, so much for your fantasy land. Deny it all you like but you should really pull your head out of your ass and learn some biology and history. Cannabis also didn’t take 15 thousand years to evolve, dipshit, that’s too short a time period.

    But oh noes, da european history is lies to keep us opressed!11

    Your delusional lies and fantasy stems directly from your irrational hate of all white people.

    Unless you let go of your hate you will remain a nobody forever.

    Anyone notice how it’s always people that are part spanish huffing paint and dragging their butt across the carpet and then spewing delusional lies rather than pure natives doing it? Funny that.

  8. Dirty Harry on

    No doubt! What about all homes that choose live Christmas trees and then put electric lights on them. Burning candles for light…Fireplaces! Oh my God, look at all the safety hazards!

  9. dopesmylez on

    is ridiculous. Marijuana grow ops are only fire hazards when irresponsible people are growing. If you’re smart and remember to properly space your lights, and only grow so many plants…you wouldn’t have to worry about it.

  10. Shoner28 on

    This is funny! Legalize pot and it will be so cheap that nobody will bother growing it at home. It will be relegated to hobby growing, just like wine making.

  11. Anonymous on

    I see his point. I don’t want MY house burnt crispy because some idiot can’t understand the load capacity of a circuit. You are correct also, someone should set up a business that would promote grow safety. NOT a government agency though…God no!

  12. Anonymous on

    Lying slaves of the crown again?? YES!! There is plans out there for groe rooms you lying fucken limeys!! There are plans for two plants up to rooms carring up to 48 plants auto systems too! Again just a lie to stick there slave noses were they DONT belong!!Your in the pickle because YOU should NOT try to change the laws CHANGE YOUR GOVERMENT!! YOU DUMB NOTHERFUCKER!! Get you heads out off your asses and overthrow this bullshit crown and kings and queens BUT NO!! dumbshits like MARC, DAVID, and,CHRIS still thinks there system works and they can change it?? Talk about being STONER STUPID!! and who voted and put theses clowns in charge of any movement?? Well we should be glad of one thing?? That these lossers in there failed plan were NOT in charge of the Viet-Nam protests we still be there, fighting if they were in charge back then. Again QUIT putting stories up that come stright from the MANS MOUTH!! that your first mistake second is HAVING A COP, well undercover D.E.A. work for ya, it cramps the style?? But then again your kind also pushes the auto flowering strains and see nonthing wrong with them?? That proves when it comes to growing, and farming you shits NO NONTHING!! auto flowering will if unchecked can and will ruin all strains if unchecked can and will wipe out your changes of clones and mother plants because of a couple of lazy growers and money hungry clons in europe who put money above the plant!! In CALI!! we are boycotting any breeder who carrys any auto flowering strains GREENHOUSE!! might as well never ship to us again, we dont need auto flowering, besides YOU ATEAL STRAINS and CALL THEM YOUR OWN!?! Who the hell wants to go to a cup ran by non growers from NYC??? who says you cant enter there rigged contest unless you have a seed co.?? FUck that! and fuck you! european cup! why share any of our strains with assholes who think there shit dont stink? News flash slicks we can smell it across the pond!?! So stay there and us here, and we will see next year who has the best strains and one more thing weed, was here long before you shit heads showed up? over 15,000 years you spainish didnt bring shit execpt there dumbasses!! Get it europe you didnt bring shit to the new world let along the PLANT you didnt it was here already, IT STARTED HERE and we spraed it around the world!!, and YES we have the BOOKS to back it up? what you didnt know you shits missed one libery to boot, but you will all fine out this year what they said, well at least from the weapons part of the books?

  13. Anonymous on

    OK then asshole start a new business showing people how to do it the right way. stop whining about