Thieves targeting legal medical marijuana operations
BY CASSIDY OLIVIER, THE PROVINCE
Some Langley residents who are legally licensed to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes are being ripped off by thieves.
Three medicinal marijuana grow ops have been robbed within the past six months, although RCMP say there is no way to tell if the facilities are being specifically targeted because they are a medicinal operation, or just because they have pot.
The latest incident happened 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 neighbourhood.
They overpowered the victim and tied him up, covering his eyes. They ransacked the house and made off with the pot plants the victim was licensed to grow.
There was a similar incident in late December 2010 when five individuals, two of them armed, forced their way into a residence in the Fernridge area of South Langley, which was also legally licensed to grow marijuana.
The plants weren’t stolen because they weren’t mature, but the thieves made off with a laptop and cellphone.
And in October 2010, a residence in Willoughby, which was again licensed to grow marijuana, was ransacked by three armed individuals. No arrests have been made in any of the robberies.
“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, who advised licensed grow operators to practise basic home security.
Resident safety is something the City of Chilliwack is taking into account as they consider asking strata councils to draft a bylaw that would prohibit medicinal grow operators from living in their buildings.
In addition to the safety risk associated with armed thefts, the city is concerned with the fire and health hazards such operations pose. There are an estimated 50 medicinal grow operations in Chilliwack, one of which is in a strata building.
Elaine McCormack, a Vancouver-based real estate lawyer, said such a bylaw would likely be legal, although it would likely raise a number of legal and, potentially, human rights challenges.
“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 revisit the matter within the next few months.
Anyone with information regarding the Langley robberies is asked to call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.