Marihuana Growing Operations in Alberta 1997-2004

This report on the nature and extent of marihuana grow operations in Alberta follows a similar report on marihuana grow operations in British Columbia (Plecas, Malm, & Kinney, 2005). That report described the results of a review of all marihuana grow operations coming to the attention of police in British Columbia over the seven-year period 1997 to 2003. The review involved a comprehensive analysis of police files associated with 25,014 grow operations and the 15,588 suspects connected to these incidents. The purpose of the review was not only to describe the nature and extent of grow operations throughout the province, but also to describe how the police and the courts responded to marihuana grow incidents. The report found that grow operations had increased substantially in British Columbia over the seven years, that they had become larger and more sophisticated, that a significant number involved hydro theft, that the average operation involved seasoned criminals, increasingly of Vietnamese origin, and that the volume of operations exceeded the capacity of the police to respond. At the same time, however, prosecutors were less likely to proceed with charges and judges were less likely to sentence individuals involved in a grow operation to prison (Plecas et al., 2005).


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