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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Weeding Out Trouble
Title:CN AB: Weeding Out Trouble
Published On:2012-01-19
Source:Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-01-21 06:01:30

City officials and cops are concerned about risks posed by legal
marijuana grow ops, those sanctioned by the federal government,
running anonymously in Calgary communities.

Despite being given the nod by Health Canada to see pot plants
produced, the operations can pose the same peril seen with illegal outfits.

A southwest house was shuttered Wednesday after officials from the
city's safety response unit and health officials deemed it unfit for
human habitation.

It stemmed from a warrant under provincial safety codes and issues
including wiring, ventilation and mould.

It belonged to a man who died this month, several months after being
badly burned in a house fire, on the same street, which police allege
was sparked by attempts to make hash oil.

Health Canada issued medical marijuana licenses to individuals in both homes.

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, a longtime crusader against illegal grow
ops festering in neighbourhoods, said the cases raise questions about
how many legal ones exist in the city and how they are monitored to
ensure people adhere to the rules.

"When the license is issued, I wonder if neighbours know if they are
next to a grow op," she said.

"How many inspectors are in place to make sure they comply with
(conditions) of the licence issued?

"It raises all kinds of questions and concerns about the supervision
and monitoring."

Green Team South Staff Sgt. Tom Hanson agrees.

Despite ongoing lobbying by police nationwide law enforcement and
city officials are kept in the dark about where those given licences
to grow medicinal marijuana are.

"We are quite concerned about how many there might be and how unsafe
they might be," Hanson said Wednesday.

"We aren't privy to where these things are, Health Canada doesn't
notify us where they are and we don't have the ability to check up on them."

With city and police hands tied, compounding worries is the fact
there are inadequate inspections done by the feds, he said.

"Health Canada has very few resources to follow up on any licences
they issue, from my understanding," he said.

"They are more concerned about issuing permits than making sure all
the checks and balances are in place."

As of January 2010, Alberta had 322 authorizations to possess
medicinal marijuana.

Health Canada releases the number of sanctioned grow ops in Canada
but doesn't specify locations.

"From their perspective, it's private information - we want to assure
the public is not at risk," Hanson said.

Risks inherent in grow operations, legal or not, are well documented
- - proving a magnet for criminals and safety issues nationwide.

Health Canada officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Last summer, the feds unveiled tighter rules on medicinal marijuana
licenses after saying there were concerns the program is open to
exploitation by criminal elements, a wish to keep communities safe
and improve access for legitimately relying on it for medicinal purposes.
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