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Monday, March 5, 2007

Pot Growers Move to the Suburbs

From csmonitor.com: Raids on 40 houses in 12 suburban Georgia counties over the past two weeks are one recent sign of what police say is a national trend in marijuana marketing: growing the illicit crop year-round indoors, using suburban homes as "grow-houses."

Grow-houses – a spacious incarnation of the old grow-room – have proliferated like suburban-garden gnomes, as antidrug squads have chased growers off remote mountainsides and out of cornfields. In these basements, lights hum with thousands of watts across a sea of plants lodged in a hydroponic soup of nutrients. Upstairs, there's usually no furniture, police say, except a cot, a chair, and a rabbit-ear TV.

"It's the most impressive thing I've seen in 20 years of law enforcement," says Lt. Jody Thomas of the Fayette County Drug Taskforce.

Police say the 'burbs give growers a degree of solace and safety, protected by suburbia's premium on privacy and even a 2001 US Supreme Court ruling that prevents law officers from aiming heat-sensing equipment at homes unless they first obtain search warrants.

The trend also signals that "production is moving closer to consumption" – a path that leads straight to the suburbs, says Jon Gettman, editor of the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform in Lovettsville, Va., which promotes legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

Alarm about suburban pot-growing is rising, and some worry that efforts to eradicate crops grown outdoors are driving the illicit industry to become more entrenched in middle-class America, a la Showtime's hit TV show "Weeds," about a suburban mom who sells pot.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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