Bummer Summer Hurts Marijuana Crops

Vancouver Island RCMP say they’ve noticed a big drop in the number of outdoor marijuana sites spotted from the air this year, and the crops on those sites contain fewer, smaller plants.

Police say that dismal summer weather means that the season has been a bust for B.C.’s biggest cash crop – marijuana.

Vancouver Island RCMP say they’ve noticed a big drop in the number of outdoor marijuana sites spotted from the air this year, and the crops on those sites contain fewer, smaller plants.

The likely culprits for the shrinking crops include lack of sun and cooler temperatures at the start of the season, according to a release.

Police destroyed just 7,281 plants from outdoor grows on Vancouver Island this year, just a fraction of the more than 30,000 plants seized in 2010.

An integrated team made up of officers from various RCMP detachments on Vancouver Island use helicopters to search for marijuana grows sites every year.

This year, the police say they discovered significantly fewer large-scale sites, which can include as many as 450 plants.

The airborne portion of the investigation is over but police said they will continue searching for illegal grow-ops from the ground.

While Mounties say cold summer weather played a role in this year’s decline, they’re also saving some credit for themselves.

“Our efforts over the past decade to destroy this annual crop appear to have paid off,” Cpl. Darren Lagan said in a release. “The loss of over 30,000 plants last year alone sent a strong message to those responsible for this illegal activity.”

– Article originally from BCTV News.

RCMP Report Plunge In Grow-Ops Due to Bad Weather, Good Policing

Robert Matas and Ian Bailey, The Globe and Mail

RCMP on Vancouver Island are touting the impact of bad weather on B.C.’s multibillion-dollar marijuana crop, but some observers say that optimism misses indoor harvesting, which is a substantial part of the industry.

“Most indoor crops are meant for B.C. and most outdoor crops are exported,” said marijuana advocate Jodie Emory. “The quality of indoor cannabis is better because you control the entire environment and make perfect growing conditions.

“Outdoors, you have the weather issues we’re seeing now.”

Her comments came after RCMP Corporal Darren Lagan on Vancouver Island reported police are finding significantly fewer marijuana growing sites this year during their annual campaign to wipe out the plants grown on remote Crown lands. Also, the plants they are finding are stunted, with fewer seeds.

The RCMP, working with municipal police in Victoria and Saanich, and assisted by the Canadian Forces in Comox, have destroyed 7,281 plants so far this year, a drop of more than 75 per cent from 30,072 plants in 2010.

“It was quite a surprise,” Cpl. Lagan said. “I’ve been doing this for five years and we have seen increases every year.”

Cpl. Lagan attributed the sudden decline in the number of plants to colder temperatures at the start of the growing season and effective policing.

The RCMP has a helicopter that flies up and down Vancouver Island in June and July in search of potential marijuana-growing operations. Several sites were found on slopes that were logged near streams in remote areas. The Department of National Defence provided additional helicopters and assisted police in dropping from the sky to the remote growing sites to destroy the marijuana plants. The size of the sites varied from 450 plants to less than 100 plants.

The RCMP believe they made a dent in the profitability of outdoor marijuana grow-operations last year, with the destruction of 30,000 plants. “We sent a very strong message – it is not going to be as easy as you thought. And we will be back,” he said.

But criminologist Neil Boyd of Simon Fraser University, who has written extensively on illegal drugs, said the police confidence overlooks the impact of indoor growing.

“What people are consuming is much more likely, in urban areas particularly, to be [from]indoor growers,” he said. “I would say the amounts grown indoors are likely greater than the amounts grown outdoors, which is how they can achieve the consistent potency.”

The RCMP itself has previously noted that indoor growing is key to the illicit industry. “Indoor production sites are more common” due to greater control over the environment, resulting in larger yields with more potency and greater privacy “to avoid law-enforcement detection,” said a 2009 report on Canada’s illicit drug situation prepared by the force.

Cpl. Lagan said no arrests have been made. “The unfortunate part is the noise [of the helicopter]. It is difficult to make a silent approach.” Even if they find someone nearby, it often proves difficult to tie them to the grow-op, Cpl. Lagan said.

The RCMP was unable to comment on the impact of the weather on growing elsewhere in British Columbia.

– Article originally from The Globe and Mail.