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A grow op is any property owned or leased by persons in the drug trade who turns the property into a hydroponic operation to grow marijuana plants. A grow op operation could be located in any residential property, which is normally located in the basement. Some grow op operations may also include one property or may include a number of neighbouring properties on the same street and have been known to operate in virtually every province and territory across Canada. Grow op operators are becoming sophisticated where they may have placed interior lights with timers to make it appear that someone lives in the property.

Damages Caused by Grow Op Operations

Marijuana crops require large amounts of water in order for the crops to grow successfully. A number of renovations may need to be completed in order to grow marijuana plants, which includes a ventilation system to handle the excess moisture generated, which may include modifications to the drain system, or venting through the roof. As a result of this moisture, mould and spores may start to grow. A number of noxious gases may also be developed in the process. After the grow ops have been removed from the property, toxic contaminants can still remain in the air, which may include exacerbation of asthma in mould for sensitive people and may also increase upper respiratory disease.
 
An enormous amount of power is required to run a marijuana grow operation, where illegal cables are hooked up to the power source for the property. The lines are often cut to the power meter to prevent the police and hydro [electricity] companies from identifying the property as a grow op. Heavy power usage wears out the transformers prematurely, which can result in fires months or years down the road. When the wiring and lighting are modified, the electrical systems are overloaded which makes the properties hazardous to the entire neighbourhood.

Identifying a Former Grow Op

There are obvious signs to indicate that you may be dealing with a former grow op:
  • Mould in corners where ceilings and walls meet
  • Signs of roof vents
  • Painted concrete floors in the basement with circular marks of where pots once were
  • Evidence of tampering with the electric meter (damaged or broken seals) or the ground around it
  • Unusual or modified wiring on the exterior of the house
  • Brownish stains around the soffit that bleeds down along the siding
  • Concrete masonry patches or alterations on the inside of the garage
  • Patterns of screw holes on the walls
  • Alteration of fire places
  • Denting on front door (from police ramming the door)

Identifying a Grow Operation

Some signs to indicate that you may be dealing with a grow operation:
  • Buyer or tenant unloads unrecognizable equipment and very few household furnishings
  • Buyer or tenant unloads copper and/or PVC pipe, soil, halogen lamps, large amounts of black plastic aluminum ducting, and fans
  • Tenants come and go an unusual hours but never seem to stay overnight
  • Little or no garbage is brought to the curb each week
  • Mail is rarely delivered to the house and the mailbox may be taped shut
  • Windows are always dark and may be secured with metal bars, blacked out or heavily draped
  • A strong odor similar to skunk cabbage (bulk marijuana) comes from the building
  • Power meter spins at a very high speed or signs of electrical tampering
 
Source: Calgary Real Estate Board member-only intranet, 2012-02-15

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