Hollett said as far as building codes in the HRM are concerned, the municipality has some catching up to do when it comes to addressing marijuana cultivation in homes.
Deputy fire chief Roy Hollett told CBC's Information Morning that the department has already dealt with fires that have been caused by illegal growing operations.
Hollett said the department is working with the HRM committee that is developing the municipality's approach to legalization, but that legalization has taken the fire service into uncharted territory.
"Fortunately we're versed in it, but we're just going to see more of it," says Halifax deputy fire chief
"It's not advanced enough to provide information about what you would require to put a grow-op in a home," he said.
In its review of federal marijuana legislation, the Canadian Senate suggested a number of amendments, including that the federal government grant provinces the authority to ban home cultivation of marijuana.
On Wednesday, the federal government indicated that it would accept most of the amendments, but was rejecting the change that would give provinces the power to ban growing cannabis at home.
Halifax's deputy fire chief says the department is looking ahead to the legalization of marijuana and anticipating an increased risk of fires from people growing and smoking pot at home.
"Someone's taking a home now and trying to build a modified greenhouse in a bedroom or room that's not built for that," he said.
For more than forty years, the epicenter of cannabis farming in the United States was a region of northwestern California called the Emerald Triangle, at the intersection of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties. Of these, Humboldt County is the most famous. It was here, in hills surrounding a small town called Garberville, that hippies landed in the nineteen-sixties, after fleeing the squalor of Berkeley and Haight-Ashbury. They arrived in the aftermath of a timber bust, and clear-cut land was selling for as little as a few hundred dollars an acre. In their pursuit of self-sufficiency, the young idealists homesteaded, gardened naked, and planted seeds from the Mexican cannabis they had grown to love. They learned the practice known as sinsemilla, in which female cannabis plants are isolated from the pollen of their male counterparts, which causes the females to produce high levels of THC. The cultivators smuggled in strains of Cannabis indica from South Asia and bred hybrids with sativas from Mexico. They learned to use light deprivation to encourage premature flowering, and they practiced selective breeding to isolate for the most desirable potency, scent, and appearance.
“We grew up really poor,” Gellman said, as we arrived at an electronic gate at the entrance to his property. Gellman is a fisherman, and the gate was decorated with stainless-steel salmon. He rolled down his window and typed in a code, and we drove up the driveway to a large, beige house. Gellman laughed and said, “Here I am talking about how poor we were as we pull up to this.” It looked more like a house you would find in a gated community than one on a mountaintop hundreds of miles from a major city. A border collie and a wolfish mutt wandered out of the garage and stood in the rain to greet the pickup. We passed through an entryway into a spacious open-plan kitchen that looked onto a high-ceilinged great room with a fireplace.
In the years that followed, the back-to-the-land movement, which began as a protest of American materialism, was increasingly subsidized, in Humboldt, by profits from cannabis. In the nineteen-eighties, as the war on drugs escalated, the growers responded by developing techniques to cultivate cannabis indoors or beneath trees. Their children, many of whom grew up poor, were less inclined to pursue “voluntary simplicity” for idealistic reasons. The cannabis industry represented the best living they could make in the place where they grew up, and a fairly lucrative one, especially after California legalized marijuana for medical use, in 1996. For those from the older generation who had believed that “dropping out” required serious economic sacrifice, the crop was the original sin of Humboldt’s Eden. Jentri Anders, the author of “Beyond Counterculture,” an anthropological study of the back-to-the-landers of southern Humboldt County, wrote, in 2012, “I believe I realized much earlier than most that, if there was indeed a shared vision, it was in grave danger of being swamped, distorted and subsumed by the advent of the growing industry.” She continued, “I feared early on that the entire geographical area, mainstream and hippie alike, would come to be defined by the outside world through the lens of the marijuana industry, and that is exactly what happened.”