Grow ops in BC continue to plague communities and Kamloops is not immune to this problem. Each grow operation presents many risks to the communities they exist in, such as drug traffic through the community and community safety related to this traffic. Marijuana production continues to be a multi-billion dollar industry in B.C. with thousands of charges laid against operators each year. There are endless stories of grow op busts of all sizes but the problem persists in B.C. and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
What is a Marijuana Grow Operation?
Marijuana Grow Ops appear in homes or outbuildings in residential, rural or commercial/industrial areas. These operations can occur in apartments, small bungalows, large multi-million dollar homes and commercial buildings. The buildings appear to be fairly well maintained and don’t look out of the ordinary however the internal structure may have received significant structural, electrical and heating system modifications that are not up to code or deemed safe.
Changes to these systems are done to replicate warm, humid climates in which hybrid plants flourish to produce high potency marijuana. Structures that were previously Marijuana Grow Ops are often unsafe for human occupancy. This is because of compromised structural and mechanical integrity, as well as hazards from mold (mould) and chemical residue.
Is there a grow op in your neighbourhood? How to identify a grow op.
(It is important to note that a positive response to some of these questions does not mean it is a grow op house and that the residents are involved in criminal activity. Please use this questionnaire as a basic guideline only.)
1. Occupants don’t appear to have regular job hours and drive expensive automobiles.
2. Dark window coverings on many windows
3. Illuminated rooms or outbuildings nearly 24 hours a day.
4. Heavy condensation on windows, lack of frost or snow on roofs of houses when others have frost and snow. Blowing curtains from fans.
5. Abnormal number of roof vents or unusual amount of steam in cold weather.
6. Extra security such as large fences or guard dogs.
7. Entry is always through the automatic garage doors and residents are always in their cars
8. Strange smell or odor coming from the home.
9. Electrical humming sounds, numerous fans and running water.
10. Unusual wiring to the exterior of the home and or the hydro meter spins at a faster than normal rate.
11. Commonly experienced localized power surges or browning. Lights often dim or appliances slow down with lack of power.
12. Avoid making any contact with neighbours.
13. Toys are often outside the home but no children are ever seen at the home.
14. Large quantities of growing equipment & supplies are seen taken into the home/outbuildings but there are no flowers or gardens at the home. Often purchased in winter months.
15. Numerous pots, soil, garden hoses and fertilizers around the property.
16. Appears to be vacant, yard poorly kept and newspapers build up at the front door.
17. Hoses run from doors and windows to the outside of the home.
18. Visitors often park down the street and walk to the home.
19. In condominiums owners move in at night, disappear for long periods of time or you never see them move in.
21. Garbage days there is no garbage ever or there is no noticeable activity in the home but a lot of garbage.
Grow ops can either be lived in or maintained by visiting gardeners. The RCMP see a lot of operations now where the whole house is used, on the other hand, sometimes only a small portion of a home is used.
How to detect a Marijuana grow operation when purchasing a home.
When purchasing a home it is important to do all the appropriate tests and inspections to safeguard your purchase. A thorough environmental assessment which includes an air quality and mold inspection should be conducted. A proper inspection for mould should be thorough and include numerous air samples (spore test) and visual inspection of the structure. These comprehensive tests will survey the air quality to identify and locate hidden pollution and mould levels indoors. These tests will identify any areas that had previous grow operations and contain abnormal levels of mould or chemical pollution. These agents alone can cause serious health problems leading to long term conditions.
A listing Realtor is required by the Canadian Real Estate Association to have a home owner fill out a Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This statement is filled out by the home owner and requires a home owner to disclose any “material latent defects” such as a grow operation that cannot be detected with reasonable investigation. Grow op owners can and have hidden obvious signs of a previous grow operation and not disclosed it in this form. A potential buyer unfortunately has to search deeper before assuming all facts are disclosed by the homeowner. Talking to neighbours and local authorities often can uncover information.
If you suspect a marijuana grow-op in your neighbourhood
If you suspect a property is being used to grow marijuana or that a property has a bypassed electric meter, contact your local Police. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477).