Police in the Niagara Region say Health Canada medical marijuana licences are being used to hide illegal grow-ops, after 18 people were arrested and more than 4,000 plants seized in three raids.
Niagara Regional Police investigated over the past 13 months and executed three search warrants at 1651 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Eighteen people were arrested and 4,015 marijuana plants seized, after police said the grow-ops were using their Health Canada issued licence to hide thousands of illegal plants.
The most recent raid occurred on Monday and police said the suspects arrested were “shrouding their criminal activities” by using legal medical marijuana licences to “over produce.”
Police said the extra marijuana wasn’t being used for medical purposes, but was suspected of being sold “on the black market for financial gain.”
The estimated street value of the marijuana plants was pegged by police at more than $4 million.
Police said illegal grow-ops pose a “significant threat to the public” and those who operate them, because they can become “vulnerable to the criminal subculture.”
They added that a recent illegal marijuana grow-op in the region was the site of a violent home invasion armed robbery.
Police said the majority of Health Canada licences are used for legitimate medical purposes by law abiding citizens, but encourage anyone with information on illegal grow-ops in the region to contact police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).