|Photo: PNG/Regina Leader-Post|
|Home basement grow-ops like these are being targeted by thieves around Langley, British Columbia, Canada.|
Some British Columbia residents who are legally licensed to grow medical marijuana are being ripped off by thieves.
Three Langley, B.C., medical marijuana grow-ops have been robbed in the past six months, reports Cassidy Olivier at The Province. But Royal Canadian Mounted Police said there is “no way to tell” if the grows are being specifically targeted because they are a medicinal cannabis operation, or simply because they have pot.
“We’re very concerned,” said Supt. Derek Cooke of the Langley RCMP, reports CBC News. “This is a significant problem for the community.” There are more than 800 legal medical marijuana grow-ops in B.C., according to Cooke.
The latest robbery happened on Sunday at 3:30 a.m., when two men, armed with a rifle and a knife, forced their way into a home in the Brookswood neighborhood.
They overpowered the victim and tied him up, covering his eyes, then ransacked the house, taking marijuana plants the victim was licensed to grow.
A similar incident occurred last December when five men, two of them armed, forced their way into a home in the Fernridge neighborhood of south Langley. That victim was also legally licensed to grow cannabis.
The plants weren’t stolen that time — because they weren’t yet mature — but the thieves left with a laptop and a cellphone anyway.
A Willoughby residence — again, licensed to grow marijuana — was ransacked by three armed men in October 2010.
No arrests have been made in any of the robberies.
|Photo: Langley Advance|
|Cpl. Holly Marks, RCMP: “Any home invasion or any grow rip is concerning, but I have no way of knowing if this is specifically targeting medicinal grow operations”|
”Any home invasion or any grow rip is concerning, but I have no way of knowing if this is specifically targeting medicinal grow operations,” said Cpl. Holly Marks of the Langley RCMP. Marks advised growers to use basic home security measures.
Samn Mellace of Fraser Valley, whose 300 plants make him a potential target for robbers, said he takes extraordinary security measures, including prison-style gates, a crash barrier, surveillance cameras, guard dogs and motion sensors.
Mellace said he believes some growers have brought trouble on themselves by promising tough security to get their licenses from Health Canada, but then cutting corners. The government doesn’t do follow-up compliance checks.
“I put a lot of the blame on Health Canada,” said Mellace, alleging they are “not doing their job.”
Concern over the safety of medicinal marijuana growers has now reached the point where the city of Chilliwack, B.C., is considering a strata council bylaw that would ban grow-operators from living in their buildings.
In addition to the safety risk of armed thefts, Chilliwack officials claimed they were concerned with the “fire and health hazards” marijuana grow operations pose. There are about 50 medicinal cannabis groups in Chilliwack, one of which is located in a strata building.
Such a bylaw would likely be legal, although it could raise a number of legal and human-rights questions, according to Elaine McCormack, a Vancouver-based real-estate lawyer.
“I anticipate some very interesting legal proceedings resulting from marijuana grow-ops in multi-family dwellings,” she said.
The City of Chilliwack is expected to review the matter in a few months.
Anyone with information regarding the marijuana robberies is asked to call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200.