Penalties For Grow Ops in the Age of Legal Marijuana

April 27, 2021

Now that the Canadian government has legalized recreational marijuana, it doesn’t mean just anybody can start a grow op. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the legal amounts of legal cannabis plants you are allowed to grow and the penalties for going over. We’ll also look into what to do if you have been charged with running a grow op. 

The exploitation of Canada’s Medical Cannabis Growing Licenses 

To legally grow marijuana in Ontario for medicinal use, you must have a permit from Health Canada. Individuals who use marijuana medicinally are also allowed to grow their own plants for their personal use or designate another individual to grow the plants for them. 

The number of plants that you are licensed to grow depends on your prescription. Legally, you are only authorized to produce a limited amount of cannabis for your own medical purposes – you cannot share or provide it to anyone else. If you designate another person to grow for you, they must adhere to the limits and carry a licence to prove they can produce the plants. 

It is very easy to get registered as a grower under this system, and this has become an easy way for some individuals to exploit the system. It is especially attractive for organized crime to use this method to take advantage of the system and grow unregistered cannabis under the cover of a Health Canada license. 

Organized Crime and Grow-ops

According to the Government of Canada: “individuals, who have been authorized by their health care practitioner, to register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.” For an individual prescribed 50g of marijuana a day, this works out to 244 indoor plants or 95 outdoor plants. Critics say that organized crime groups are taking advantage of this legal loophole and growing more than their allotted plants. 

Over the past year, police in Ontario have seized millions of dollars worth of plants and products from large-scale illegal marijuana grow ops across the province. These investigations enforce cannabis law and investigate organized crime using the legal cannabis market as a cover. Most of this illegal marijuana is exported to the US with the proceeds coming back to criminal organizations as money, weapons and other drugs. 

Recently in Chatham-Kent, police seized 7,300 plants from a grow-op worth 7.3 million dollars. Those arrested face charges in court for growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that violated the Cannabis Act.

What Is The Legal Amount of Marijuana Plants You Can Grow For Personal Recreational Use? 

For recreational use, you are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence (not per person) as long as you are 19 or older, and it is only for your personal use. You must also purchase the growing materials from an authorized dealer. You do not need a permit to grow these plants. 

If you grow more than your allotted number of plants or produce more cannabis products than you are legally allowed to, you are required to destroy the extra plants or product. If you don’t destroy the additional plants or products, it is considered an illegal grow-op, and you could be charged.

What Are The Penalties in Ontario for Grow Ops 

While recreational use of marijuana and cannabis products is legal, if you possess amounts over the limit or go over your allotted number of plants, the penalties can be severe. 

If you possess more than the allowed 30 grams of dried marijuana, you could face a penalty ranging from a ticket to up to five years in prison. If you are growing small amounts of plants over your four plant limit for unlicenced plants, you could face a fine. Still, if you are caught producing large amounts of cannabis beyond personal cultivation limits, you can be penalized with up to 14 years in prison

What To Do if You Are Accused of Running a Grow Op

If you’ve been accused of running an illegal grow op, you need the advice of a lawyer with experience defending clients in court. Willian Jaksa has over a decade of experience defending clients and can help explain your case and help you get the best outcome. Contact William Jaksa today for more information and a consultation.

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