Article by Dale Carruthers, London Free Press
One truck was packed with pot, another was loaded with pizzas.
That was the scene outside a northwest London industrial building where police raided a marijuana-growing operation Monday, arresting four people and seizing a large amount of cannabis.
A small front-end loader carrying pot plants could be seen coming and going from the building at 1490 North Routledge Park.
The front-end loader dumped the marijuana into the back of a truck and drove back inside the building to retrieve another load. The truck’s driver hopped into the packed bed and stomped down the pot plants before driving away under police escort.
A pickup truck with a flatbed stacked with pizza boxes remained at the scene.
Police say four people were arrested and face charges after Ontario’s joint forces cannabis enforcement team raided the building north of Hyde Park and Gainsborough roads. London police said the investigation is in its early stages and more information would be released at a later date.
The former Spencer Steel building has been a source of contention in the Hyde Park neighbourhood since fall 2019, when area residents began complaining of a pungent odour coming from the building.
At the time, city officials estimated that an operator with a licence to grow medical marijuana was cultivating as many as 1,800 plants in the building.
The odour problem became so contentious the Hyde Park Business Association organized a public meeting to address the issue, prompting politicians to get involved.
London West MP Kate Young brought the community’s concern to Bill Blair, federal minister of border security and organized crime reduction.
Coun. Josh Morgan, whose Ward 7 takes in the facility, raised the issue with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to push for better oversight of non-commercial medical marijuana growers.
But the smell didn’t go away, residents said.
Developer Harry Hermann, whose office is near the pot facility, expressed optimism that Monday’s police raid will finally put an end to the smell plaguing the area.
“It was a unique tenant to have next door. They came in with disregard,” he said of the facility’s operators.
The city should reconsider allowing medicinal marijuana growers to operate near residential areas, he added. “There’s better locations for this type of manufacturing.”
Canadian law allows medicinal marijuana users to grow their own cannabis or appoint someone approved by Health Canada to do it for them. These growers are separate from the country’s commercial licensed producers, who supply most of Canada’s medical marijuana and all its recreational pot.