All the tell-tale signs were there: The shades were always drawn. Garbage wasn’t being collected. There were no friendly chats with the residents of house number eight on a sleepy Brampton cul-de-sac. And then there was the smell – that distinct, sweet skunky aroma that even the squarest of the square can usually identify.
Neighbours called police, informing them that they suspected a marijuana grow op was in their midst. They were right, but police didn’t storm the residence and pluck the plants. No one was led out in handcuffs and there was no news conference with police showing off bags of buds from their latest bust.
That’s because it was all perfectly legal.
The home in question is fully licenced with Health Canada to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes, but neighbours say they’re surprised it’s operating in a residential area.
“Why here, where you’ve got kids, families, schools?” one perturbed neighbour asked.
Police say despite calls from neighbours, they can’t interfere.
“If it’s a licenced grow op, then we don’t have any business to be within that (home) unless there is some sort of a threat to the community,” said Const. George Tudos.
Health Canada says there are 21,500 licenced, legal grow ops operating across the country.
But less than one percent are being inspected, and some fear that illegal activity is flourishing under the noses of police and concerned residents.
There’s no evidence that anything illicit is taking place at the Brampton home, but Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose admitted that some licenced growers could be taking advantage of the government’s lack of oversight.
“What happened with the program is that frankly it got out of control. Unfortunately that has resulted in a lot of leakage and abuse of the system and we do know that there is probably illegal activity happening,” she told CityNews.
Health Canada’s Robert Ianiro said he’s not aware of any licences being revoked.
“I’m personally not aware of any at this point,” he said. “Although the vast majority of people are following the law, the current program is subject to abuse and for that reason it is going to be changed.”