The Marihuana Grow Initiative (MGI) was designed to bring all partners together, including federal, provincial and municipal governments, law enforcement agencies and the private sector, to develop new ways to address the evolving and growing problems linked to the activities surrounding illicit marihuana in Canada. The MGI consists of dedicated teams that work to prevent the production, distribution and sale of marihuana across Canada.The MGI is part of activities undertaken by a confederation of non-government/police associations known as the National Council Against Marihuana Grow Operations and Clandestine Labs.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members work with a broad range of internal and external partners to exchange information and work on areas of common concern/jurisdiction. These partners include fire services, hydro personnel, building inspectors, the Department of National Defence, other police forces, municipal green teams, emergency health services, federal/provincial/municipal roving traffic units and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), to name a few. These partnerships foster joint training initiatives, the development of mutual strategies and the coordination of operations, and lend themselves to an enhanced ability to monitor, analyze and predict regional and national trends on marihuana production and trafficking. These partnerships also foster an enhanced ability to adjust tactical and strategic objectives based on the analysis of regional and national marihuana grow operation trends. Key partnerships and new technologies have been sought to increase intelligence capacity (e.g., ChemWatch, CBSA, Health Canada, geomatic technology, etc.). The same has occurred internally: the RCMP is utilizing information and support from other sectors within the RCMP to keep abreast of this subject area. Of significance, work with local stakeholders provides eyes and ears, increasing intelligence capacity (e.g., hydro companies, property inspectors, flying clubs, etc.).The Public Prosecution Service of Canada also works increasingly closely with the RCMP's Marihuana Grow Operations teams across Canada—for example, on wiretaps, undercover operations, proceeds of crime and forfeitures. The perception that operations are enhanced is strong in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick.
The MGI was launched in the Fall of 2011.
This initiative was launched in response to the growing problems associated with the illicit production, trafficking, export and domestic demand for illicit marihuana.
There were no significant set-up costs.
The MGI was implemented as a national initiative in phases. The MGI was rolled out September 2011 under three principal pillars: awareness, deterrence and enforcement. In the following months, the MGI website was launched, enabling people to see the addresses of homes where marihuana grow operations were seized. Lastly, under the MGI, the National Council against Marihuana Grow Operations and Clandestine Laboratories was created.
An excellent example of a key objective met is the successful collaboration between the RCMP, other law enforcement agencies, government agencies at all levels (federal, provincial and municipal) and entities from the public sector. These partnerships foster cooperation in an operational setting in order to overcome legislative issues stemming from criminal and civil legislation.There were several operational successes in the fight against drug production in 2013-14. In May 2013, officers with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, including RCMP officers, uncovered four sophisticated marihuana grow installations. Ten thousand marihuana plants, extensive equipment and live plants ranging from seedlings to mature plants were seized with an estimated worth between $5 million and $10 million. Also, since 1989, the RCMP has been conducting an annual joint forces operation with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), known as Operation SABOT (Ops SABOT). Ops SABOT is a yearly detection and eradication operation targeting outdoor marihuana grow operations during the late summer / early fall period. With the assistance of the CAF, RCMP investigators deploy helicopters and crews across Canada in order to locate and dismantle outdoor marihuana plantations. In 2013-14, Ops SABOT netted 42,051 marihuana plants, with a potential street value estimated at over $42 million.
Illicit marihuana and the activities surrounding these operations pose serious dangers to our communities. These operations can be found operating virtually anywhere (e.g., apartments, houses, storage lockers and rural properties). The different operations related to these activities can cause fires and explosions as well as bringing criminal elements to specific areas (e.g., there is high risk of home invasions and break and enters). The police require the assistance of the general public through the identification and reporting of suspicious activities related to illicit marihuana production sites. This assistance is obtained by raising the level of public awareness through the media. Public messaging also emphasizes the fact that these production sites are created by organized crime groups, driven by greed and seeking criminal profit with no regard for public safety.
Grow ops continue to be a major concern for home buyers and realtors across the country.The MGI website has been a great success. So far, it has received more than 400,000 visits. It has been referenced by more than 300 separate sources, has obtained significant national news coverage and has been featured on and linked to by many social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.In response to the RCMP's MGI website and the posting of criminal addresses, Canadians have responded positively via the RCMP webmail account, with comments such as the following: "…this is a great resource for the public to be informed of potentially dangerous houses and buildings in their community. Keep up the good work.""…work well done. Now I feel my tax dollars are being well used… please keep up the list and keep us better informed so we can keep a watch in our own neighbourhoods.”
The MGI clearly demonstrates the necessity for all government agencies and private-sector partners to work together in order to meet these challenges.