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OPP target grow ops, have seized $143M in cannabis since July

Police say they've arrested 195 people while taking down several criminal enterprises from July 1 to Oct. 15
opp cannabis bust oct 2020
The OPP have seized over 122,000 illegal cannabis plants across Ontario since the beginning of July.

ORILLIA – Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have seized over 122,000 illegal cannabis plants across Ontario since the beginning of July.

OPP Regional Community Street Crime Units (CSCU), along with members of the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB), Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU) have seized over $143 million in cannabis and 195 arrests have been made in the takedown of several criminal enterprises exploiting the Health Canada medical, personal and designate cannabis production regime.

The targets were involved with large-scale, sophisticated illegal cannabis production, sale and distribution operations. These criminal enterprises exploit Health Canada registrations to produce or designate someone to produce cannabis for medical purposes by diverting cannabis authorized to be grown for medical purposes to the illegal market.

"Organized crime is firmly entrenched in the production, distribution and sale of illegal cannabis. These criminals continue to exploit the Health Canada medical cannabis personal and designate production regime by diverting the cannabis to the illegal market. From concerns regarding public safety and environmental contamination, to human trafficking, the impacts that these large scale criminal cannabis production sites have on our communities cannot be understated," says Detective Inspector Jim Walker, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team.

From July 1 to Oct. 15, investigators executed 52 warrants across Ontario and laid 327 federal Cannabis Act and Criminal Code charges from Possession of Cannabis for the Purposes of Selling to Careless Storage of a Firearm. The OPP seized over 122,000 cannabis plants from 52 large-volume illegal operations - 7,000 plants from one site alone. 

The Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Teams (PJFCET), responsible for enforcing the cannabis laws and investigating criminal enterprises that exploit or abuse the legal cannabis market, provided support in some of the investigations.

The only way to purchase legal cannabis in Ontario is through the online Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) or in-person at an Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)-authorized private retailer. Purchasing legal cannabis is the only way to ensure the cannabis has met the health and safety standards set out by the Government of Canada and Ontario. Illegal cannabis often does not match what is being advertised, recent testing of illegal cannabis products indicated lower than advertised THC levels and the use of banned pesticides. The purchase of cannabis from anywhere other than the online OCS or an authorized private retailer could lead to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.