How To Spot a Grow-Op


The OPP Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) reminds the public of the dangers associated with outdoor marihuana grow operations.

During the late spring and summer months each year, people involved with growing illegal marihuana head into rural areas to start and care for, in some cases, very large plots of marihuana plants. Typically, these illicit crops are located in swamps, corn fields, wooded areas, along rivers and on rural, rental properties with large acreage.

Marihuana plants are bright green in colour and grow to between three and five feet in height. Marihuana leaves have seven, jagged fingers and the plants give off a strong, pungent, musty odour.

Common indicators of outdoor marihuana grows include:
• Abandoned vehicles parked on side roads or trails.
• People observed walking in remote areas for no apparent reason.
• Bags of fertilizer, planting trays or chemicals located in remote areas.
• Well-trampled trails in wooded or swamp areas.
• Cleared out areas in swamps, wooded areas or corn fields.
• Numerous “No Trespassing” signs appear out of nowhere.

Typically, marihuana crops will be harvested starting as early as late August up until the beginning of October.

There are numerous safety risks of which the public should be aware of. These risks include the potential presence of criminals, weapons and ammunition found on grow-op sites. The potential for booby traps, rigged by the criminals growing these plants in an attempt to defend their illegal crops from other criminals known as ‘pot pirates’. Examples of traps encountered by DEU officers include spike boards, bear foot-hold traps, razor blades in plant stalks, and strings of fish-hooks. All of these factors could lead to dangerous confrontations for unsuspecting, innocent people – including children – who just happen to be in the area of these illegal crops.
Another risk that the OPP wants to highlight is environmental. These criminal operations usually involve the unregulated use of many chemicals and other environmentally-damaging products.

If you discover or suspect an outdoor marihuana grow operation:
• Call your local police or soon as possible
• Do not touch the marihuana plants due to potential chemical residue on the plants.
• If confronted by a marihuana grower, leave the area immediately and contact police.
• If possible and safe to do so, record any license plate or GPS information and notify police.
• In some cases, outdoor marihuana grows are guarded or protected by booby- traps. If you discovered a crop of marijuana plants, do not enter the area! For your personal safety, turn around and immediately leave the area the same way you came in.