I know many people who still refer to the weed as "wacky tabacky." But make no mistake, Canada's rural landscapes rival California as the greatest producers of marijuana in North America. And the farmlands of Wainfleet, where I live, are favourite locations for the illegal growers. And apparently, ACME Greenhouses over on Sider Road were not, as the original agricultural zoning bylaw allowed, producing cucumbers.
As it turns out, the 14 plastic-covered hothouses were, in fact, growing grass. Which would be okay except they're not a licensed sod farm either.
Firefighters responding to a 2 a.m. emergency call discovered 4,000 marijuana plants and $350,000 in grow operation equipment at the farm. Some of the potted plants in the 60-metre-long hothouses were four feet high, and the whole crop was estimated to be worth just under $5 million.
Police became suspicious two weeks ago when they learned cucumbers suddenly had a street value of $900 each. No doubt about it, I'd be going with the Genetic Engineering Defense on this one.
"You know, Your Honour, ever since Monsanto started experimenting with the genetic make-up of cash crops, you don't know what the hell you're gettin'. I mean, it said "Cucumber Seeds" right on the package and they looked like cucumber plants when they sprouted but, well, one day the dog ate a full-grown plant and next thing I know he's "riding" my riding lawn mover and howlin' one of them Beatles' songs. I think it was from The White Album. Then, I started noticin' all these empty pizza boxes. How the dog got those pies delivered, we may never know. No, I'll tell ya, David Suzuki was right, you start messin' with Mother Nature and pretty soon you got a very weird lookin' cucumber plant that's worth $1,500 on eBay."
The neighbour who lives across the street from the marijuana grow op was shocked by the discovery. "I couldn't believe it," she said. "How someone could have something so big for so long and not have someone find out?"
And that's the real problem - detection. This is not the first time huge crops of marijuana have been discovered growing out here in Wainfleet. Rural agricultural areas have always been prime property for growing illegal cannabis crops. So, here are some sure signs you might be living next door to a marijuana grow operation:
* Right after he leases the cucumber farm, the farmer puts up a sign that reads: "Sorry. We're Plum Outta Cucumbers."
* They replace the weather vane on the top of the barn with a guy wearing night vision goggles and carrying a fog horn.
* You're standing next to the farmer at Minor Brothers Farm Supply when he orders eight metric tons of Miracle Grow.
* You run into the farmer's wife at the grocery store and she's buying, cucumbers.
* One day, the farmer and his wife drive up in matching, black and white HUMMERS with the vanity plates: "KUKEONE" and "KUKETWO."
* They both wear Best Buds T-shirts, but they have no friends.
* The Jehovah's Witnesses keep having giggling fits halfway up their driveway.
* The neighbourhood always smells skunky, but you haven't seen roadkill in years.
* You notice all the people coming to their "Pick Your Own Cucumber Festival" are carrying machetes and green garbage bags.
* Last Halloween, when the neighbours ran out of Smarties, they started handing out roach clips.
* You notice *Rolling Stone* magazine has listed Wainfleet Cucumber third in international cannabis sales behind Panama Red and Columbian Gold.
* Their youngest kid wins the school talent show by playing air guitar to "Puff The Magic Dragon."
* The two guys who drive up in the Cucumber Consultants of California truck look an awful lot like Cheech and Chong.
* The vegetable stand on the lawn where they used to sell cucumbers now offers four different sizes of scented cigarette paper.
* Your kid, who delivers their newspaper, has started calling you "Dude."
* Strangers keep stopping at your house asking where they can buy "those famous cucumber brownies."
* Your dog chases their dog into their barn and your dog comes home "all mellowed out."
* When you follow the extension cord they have leading to the greenhouse it takes you to the James Bay Hydro Complex in northern Québec.
And finally, you might be living next door to a marijuana grow op when Weed Man comes twice a week and he's driving a tractor trailer.
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER - April 2009
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