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Cameras looking both ways as surveillance of border increases



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All the high-grade pot, which is sold south of the border, is grown indoors and can be grown anywhere.

"They may still call it B.C. pot but if you go to Manitoba, it's Manitoba bud," said Rintoul.

The marijuana from B.C. has developed a name and a reputation since it was first grown in the province.

In Whistler, while a significant amount of the population uses marijuana, very little is actually grown here.

"No one ever grows pot in their own home," said Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider with the Whistler RCMP.

"It's always in rental accommodations."

And in Whistler it's hard to rent.

"I think in the two years I've been here, we've had two grow operations," said Haider.

Most of the pot is grown in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island, he said.

In hydroponics grow operations the plants can be stressed to the point where they give the highest THC yield. The U.S. demand is for this kind of stuff.

Rintoul estimates about 75 per cent of the pot which is homegrown in B.C. is shipped out of the province to other markets.

The U.S. is one of the best markets because smugglers can make good American dollars.

As soon as smugglers cross into Blaine, Washington, they can turn their product into U.S. funds.

If they head even further south down the interstate, the price increases and they can get up to $6,000 (U.S.) per pound in L.A.

While the money is good, many organized crime units also trade the pot for other illegal drugs and bring them back up north.

In this way, they do not leave a paper trail, said Rintoul, and are harder to catch.

The marijuana, which is sold to organized crime groups, is traded for drugs like cocaine and that then becomes crack cocaine on Canadian streets – an epidemic in places like Vancouver's east side, said Rintoul.

And then there is the meth epidemic, which is more harmful than cocaine. Meth is more addictive and the effects last twice as long and the odds of relapsing after treatment are much higher.

There were approximately 1,800 meth amphetamine labs in Washington State last year, compared to 30 in B.C.

This drug is becoming a huge problem in B.C. and the RCMP is worried about increasing production centres.

But the illegal trade across the border isn't just limited to drugs.

"Where do all the guns come from in this country?" questioned Rintoul.

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