Canadian Marijuana Surpasses Wheat as Biggest Crop
Canada's marijuana dealers are converting suburban homes and abandoned warehouses into pot farms, creating an $8.5 billion market that's three times the size of the nation's biggest legal crop, wheat. Cities such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto may each have as many as 20,000 pot factories according to some estimates, said Rich Baylin, former national coordinator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Cultivation is rising because penalties are often one-eighth those in the U.S., and Canadians' acceptance of pot has risen.
The grow-op business has created a rift with the U.S., where police say much of the weed is sold. Efforts by Prime Minister Paul Martin to decriminalize marijuana are a bigger threat to U.S. relations than the softwood-lumber dispute, according to a Compas Research poll of 146 Canadian chief executives in March. Almost half of all adult Canadians smoked pot at least once in their life, according to a survey last year by Health Canada. The same proportion support decriminalization of possession, compared with a third of their U.S. counterparts, a November Ipsos-Reid poll found.
This announcement came as thousands gathered on the Boston Common on Saturday to sway to gritty rock music, shop for T-shirts with slogans like ''Thank You for Pot Smoking," and rally against marijuana prohibition.
Turnout was smaller than in years past, when the event sometimes drew crowds of 30,000 or 40,000, according to police. The theme of this year's rally was "Secure the Blessings of Liberty," which Saunders described as a call to political action. His group is backing a bill that is before the state Senate and would impose a civil fine of $100 for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, rather than a criminal penalty.