Convenient labour: The prevalence and nature of youth involvement in the cannabis cultivation industry

School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6 Canada.
The International journal on drug policy (Impact Factor: 3.19). 05/2009; 20(6):467-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.02.006
Source: PubMed


The emergence of cannabis cultivation in industrialised countries may offer adolescents, especially those living in regions suitable for outdoor cultivation, new opportunities to participate in the drug trade. The current study examines the prevalence and the nature of youth involvement in cannabis cultivation in an important agricultural region of Quebec, Canada.
A self-report delinquency survey was administered to 1262 adolescents between 13 and 17 years who were attending one of four secondary schools in that region. The study location was not chosen arbitrarily. The region was known for having a larger than average outdoor cannabis industry, and various media reports suggested that a substantial number of students missed school days during the cannabis harvest season, in October.
A first set of findings show that 12% of respondents reported having participated in the cannabis cultivation industry in the past year. Such a prevalence rate is higher than for any other type of crime found in the survey (except for the general category of mischief)--including assault and theft, and is comparable to the prevalence rates found for drug dealing. Such a high prevalence rate comes in part out of need for labour in this low population density region: 35% of respondents who reported having participated in the industry in the past year, were "labourers", while many others only participated in small sites, destined for personal use. Another set of findings suggest that growers are a very diverse group: although cultivation is the most prevalent money-generating crime for gang members in the region, girls and otherwise conventional adolescents are also involved in high numbers.
These results emphasise the need to design policies that concern not just the prevention of drug use among youth, but also youth involvement in the supply of drugs. In addition, it underlines the difficulty of planning general interventions in what appears to be a very heterogeneous population of growers.

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    • "The growth of cannabis cultivation in industrialized nations has led to an increased interest from researchers who sought to analyze the trends involved (Bouchard and Dion, 2009; Plecas et al., 2005), the effectiveness of law enforcement response (Bouchard, 2007; Malm and Tita, 2006; Potter et al., 1990; Wilkins et al., 2002), the relative involvement of organized crime (Tremblay et al., 2009; Wilkins, 2003) or adolescents (Bouchard et al., 2009; Bouchard and Nguyen, 2010) in the industry, the size and type of social networks involved (Malm et al., 2008), and the growers themselves and their motivations (Decorte, 2008; Hafley and Tewksbury, 1996; Hough et al., 2003; Weisheit, 1992; Potter, 2006). The consequences of the sudden rise in domestic production have been greatest on local law enforcement agencies, which had to find resources and design strategies to curb the growth. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we take advantage of aerial police detection data and compare them to an analysis of airborne hyperspectral imagery to estimate the size of outdoor cannabis production in a high density cultivation area located in British Columbia, Canada. The results suggest that law enforcement missed at least 75% of the existing cultivation sites during the operation. Based on this ratio, the total number of cultivation sites in the island/coastal region is estimated at 1772 sites, for a total of 9563–14,663 kg of marketable product. Conservative estimates of street value easily put cannabis as the number‐one cash crop in the region under study. Implications for law enforcement agencies interested about the efficiency of their eradication programs are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Police Practice and Research
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    • "Quebec had participated in the production of marihuana in the previous year. It is certainly a possibility that youth in parts of British Columbia are exposed to opportunities similar to of the adolescents in the Quebec community studied by Bouchard et al. (2009). Perhaps the allure of easy money, the access to marihuana, and the excitement of the criminal or gang lifestyle among other enticing factors that surround marihuana production could make marihuana cultivation the starting point in the criminal careers of some young people. "
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    ABSTRACT: While cases of large-scale illicit indoor marihuana production in British Columbia have become commonplace in media reporting, there is little detailed information the many facets of harm posed by this illegal industry. This article brings together what is currently known about the impact of the marihuana production industry to answer some of the most pressing questions facing policy makers, prosecutors, law enforcement, and the general public on this topic. With an emphasis on those growing operations intended for profit within the illegal drug trade, this article demonstrates the seriousness of this increasingly large, sophisticated, and pervasive type of criminal activity. Valley. He received his BA (Criminology) and MA (Criminal Justice) from the University of the Fraser Valley. His current research interests include criminal activities across the lifespan, chronic / prolific offending, drug crimes, crime prevention, and crime reduction. Len Garis has served as the Fire Chief for the City of Surrey since 2001, when he was promoted from his previous job as Assistant Fire Chief. He has undertaken extensive training related to fire fighting and emergency response. In addition to a long list of previous awards, in 2005, he received the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia's award for Public Safety for his Electrical and Fire Safety Inspection Initiative. He has worked to develop innovative techniques to detect and eliminate illegal marihuana and chemical drug production sites.
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  • No preview · Article · Jul 2009 · The International journal on drug policy
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