Medical marijuana grow-ops need to be contained

Article by Vancouver Sun Editorial Board


The startling story in The Vancouver Sun Wednesday of a Coquitlam landlord who incurred $135,000 in damages to her property as a result of a medical marijuana grow-up licensed by Health Canada raises a host of concerns about the federal government’s new regulations.

Under the new rules, patients who use pot can register with a licensed producer, grow their own or designate someone to grow it for them. No doubt, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes regulations make it easier for those who use the drug to obtain it.

But the Coquitlam case suggests a certain laxity when it comes to approving licence applications or enforcing the rules. The grow-op was not licensed to the tenant but to people paying the tenant to use the basement to grow marijuana without the landlord’s knowledge. And they grew a lot of it — 400 plants allegedly producing pot destined for the illicit market generating $200,000 a month.

A grow-op of this scale in the basement of a family home was clearly not the intent of the new regulations introduced in accordance with a Federal Court of Canada ruling (the Allard decision) that determined restrictions imposed by the previous Conservative government, which required patients to buy marijuana only from government-regulated suppliers, was a violation of their charter rights.

A marijuana grow-op uses high temperatures and high humidity, leading to mould, mildew and rot on ceilings, floors and walls, as well as in insulation, ducts and wall cavities. Electrical wiring can be altered, structural elements compromised and plumbing repurposed for hydroponics. Damage may be beyond remediation and a home might be demolished rather than repaired.

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