Mr. Speaker, I want to add my personal thoughts on this very important issue. We have to look at the proposed legislation as well as what we are individually facing in our ridings. Although the existing legislation states that it is a criminal offence to have any marijuana and to grow any plants, it provides for a maximum of seven years for as many plants as one might grow. So if people grow 3, 10, 20, 50, or 100 plants, they would get a maximum of seven years.
In my riding I have been in contact with the local police superintendent, the local councillors, and the local provincial MPP. We do have a problem. I would like to describe my riding to the rest of my colleagues.
My riding is in a suburban area. It has homes that are three bedroom bungalows as well as homes that are about 2,700 to 3,000 square feet which make it an easy target for people who want to grow marijuana. Many people have bought homes and are doing just that. They have grow house operations. They are referred to as grow houses and some people also refer to them as grow ops.
This year alone there were over 40 houses that were busted by the police in the riding of Scarborough—Agincourt. In a conversation with the local superintendent of station 42, he conveyed to me that he feared that we have grow houses on every street in our area. Police will be constrained if they want to fight organized crime.
All of our efforts will have to be made in order to bust grow houses. There are many nights that I would drive home through the riding and would find police officers coming out from having busted a home. There are many times that I would drive by homes that were suspected grow houses and we were working with the police in order to put them out. Just last week there were three grow houses that were busted in my riding within 24 hours. These numbers present a concern. My local councillor conveyed to me that he felt that it was an epidemic.
I have spoken to many colleagues in the House and have been told that they too are in similar situations. For example, just to the north in the riding of Markham the police were busting a methamphetamine lab. They went to advise the neighbours that they could be in danger of having their homes explode and catch fire. What did they find? They knocked on the house next door and it was a marijuana grow operation.
For a long time we have been in need of legislation as well as best practices to ensure that we, the custodians of our neighbours, can and will close these grow houses. In my riding the three levels of government are working together and are taking the necessary first steps to bring about quick solutions.
For example, the city councillor just last week put two signs outside homes to advise the neighbourhood that the homes were grow operations and to let people know that should they buy that house that it was a grow operation. We are requesting from the Toronto Real Estate Board as well as other real estate boards in the province of Ontario that a disclosure be put into the offer when someone buys a house.
Many years ago, when we were buying homes that might have had formaldehyde insulation, there was a full disclosure. One of the things we want to do is ensure that people know that a house that they are buying was a grow operation. Real estate agents must ensure that this is disclosed by the seller. The provincial member is looking into that aspect to have provincial legislation to address this concern.
The Province of Ontario is also passing legislation to allow the public utility to check the amount of hydro that is used by the house. If there is extreme usage, then the public utility can temporarily shut off the hydro in order to determine whether or not it is a grow house.
Then we look at this place and what we can do right here. The bill that we are debating today states that the bill will restructure the offences. One to three cannabis plants will result in a summary conviction offence punishable by a fine of $500 for adults and $250 for youth. This offence will be prosecuted exclusively by way of a contravention ticket. Four to 25 cannabis plants will be punishable by a summary conviction of up to 18 months imprisonment and up to a $25,000 fine or punishable on an indictment of up to five years less a day imprisonment. For 26 to 50 cannabis plants, the result will be punishable by an indictment of up to 10 years. More than 50 cannabis plants will be punishable by an indictment of up to 14 years.
It is appropriate that the penalty for cultivating up to three plants be reduced. The person who is growing only up to three plants is not likely to be involved in trafficking or organized crime. However, we deplore the use of marijuana when persons get to the use of 50 cannabis plants and more. We have homes in my riding that are 2,700 and 3,000 square feet and they have more than 200 plants in those homes.
Many of my constituents have expressed concerns over the bill. This bill does not legalize the use of marijuana. The bill addresses the needs of my area with regard to grow houses.
I will be working with colleagues from all sides of the House to ensure that we shut down grow house operations and put them permanently out of business for our future generations. It addresses the needs of my area and more work needs to be done.