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Killer Weed

Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media, and Justice

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Killer Weed
    Book Description:

    Going beyond the newspapers,Killer Weedexamines how legal, political, and civil initiatives that have emerged from the media narrative have troubling consequences for a shrinking Canadian civil society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9658-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Marijuana Grow Ops – Setting the Scene
    (pp. 3-36)

    In 2004, theVancouver Sunquoted Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who explained that in Canada most marijuana-growing houses are not “ma-and-pa” operations, but dangerous organized crime businesses:

    “We are not just talking about a simple crime,” he said, “... these grow operations are related to the murders that take place in our streets, to the serious harm that happens to the fabric of this nation.” The RCMP estimates annual Canadian marijuana production to be between 960–2,400 metric [sic] tonnes.¹

    In the same article:

    Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said Tuesday the government is...

  6. 1 A Brief Sociohistory of Drug Scares, Racialization, Nation Building, and Policy
    (pp. 37-56)

    This chapter examines the emergence of marijuana production as a social problem in media discourse in Canada, with an emphasis on British Columbia. We briefly review the history of Canadian drug policy, and several drug scares and media campaigns in Canada from the early nineteenth century to the present in order to contextualize the “marijuana grow-op scare.” Although early drug policy centred on the criminalization of smoking opium, we focus on the tendency of contemporary newspapers to reiterate sensationalist and conventional ideas about drugs and the people who produce, sell, and use them.

    A number of researchers have argued that...

  7. 2 Problematizing Marijuana Grow Ops: Mayerthorpe and Beyond
    (pp. 57-87)

    As noted in the preceding chapters, since the mid-1990s, law enforcement agents, Canadian newspaper reporters, city and provincial task forces, and a number of politicians have identified marijuana grow ops as “dangerous and sophisticated,” linked to violence and organized crime, and as a growing social problem requiring criminal and civil regulation. This chapter examines how the media, law enforcement agents, and politicians framed marijuana grow ops before, at the time, and following the murders of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, in March 2005. On a small farm in Mayerthorpe, James Roszko shot and killed four junior RCMP officers, Brock...

  8. 3 Marijuana Grow Ops and Organized Crime
    (pp. 88-113)

    As we discussed in the preceding chapter, since 1995, marijuana grow ops in Canada have increasingly been linked to organized crime. In this chapter, we expand on our analysis of news articles about marijuana grow ops linked to organized crime, a dominant theme that emerged in our analysis of media representations. We examine here how the media characterize the links between the profitability of the marijuana industry and organized crime. Then we reveal how media reports portray organized crime as a phenomenon that is infiltrating supposedly safe neighbourhoods to set up marijuana grow ops. We discuss media-based concerns about exports...

  9. 4 Racialization of Marijuana Grow Ops
    (pp. 114-127)

    In chapter 1, we explored the racialization of drug scares and the construction of the criminal “Other” in Canada. We agree with sociologist Clayton Mosher that “the racialization of crime has a long history in Canada.”¹ As we illustrate, news reports racialize marijuana cultivation as the purview of the Other, an age-old trope that constructs some racial and ethnic groups as outsiders and culprits. We have discussed how the media and drug war advocates employ the “routinization of caricature” – which promotes worst-case scenarios – as the norm² and links marijuana grow ops to racialized groups. As noted in the previous chapter,...

  10. 5 Civil Responses to Marijuana Grow Ops
    (pp. 128-165)

    In this chapter, we examine two related phenomena: media representations about how municipal governments view grow ops and the implementation of provincial and municipal laws, bylaws, and programs aimed at reducing the cultivation of marijuana within city and town borders. Specifically, we analyse the ways that municipal programs to eliminate residential marijuana cultivation extend the reach of regulatory initiatives beyond the domain of the criminal justice system. This chapter illustrates how abundant newspaper coverage of the public safety risks of marijuana cultivation sensitized readers to the need for more regulation at the municipal level. We also examine court decisions and...

  11. 6 Using Children to Promote Increased Regulation: The Representation and Regulation of Children Found at Grow Ops
    (pp. 166-185)

    As the 2005 news article above demonstrates, one of the most pernicious claims made in newspapers is the oft-repeated notion that children are “found” in grow ops and their parents are unfit and criminal. In this chapter, we discuss and problematize the contentious claims made about this phenomenon: fitness to parent and the dangers to children posed by drug production. Parents of children discovered on the site of marijuana grow ops are deemed to be unfit parents and their children are seen as “at risk.” Indeed, legislative changes have been proposed and implemented in British Columbia and Alberta to address...

  12. 7 Alternative Perspectives
    (pp. 186-204)

    In this book, we argue that contemporary media and other claims about marijuana grow ops in Canada constitutea drug scare fuelled by the media, RCMP, politicians, and vocal claims makers. As Reinarman and Levine remind us, a drug scare is a phenomenon quite separate from what actually occurs. A drug scare is a “designated period” of time where individuals, groups, and media forms identify and condemn a particular drug as a new social problem requiring increased attention and regulation. We illuminate the shifting and intersecting claims reported by the media about marijuana grow ops in 2,524 articles in the...

  13. Appendix: Methodological Issues
    (pp. 205-208)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 209-242)
  15. Newspaper References
    (pp. 243-258)
  16. General References
    (pp. 259-284)
  17. Index
    (pp. 285-290)