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Are your cannabis plants safe? Backyard thefts are on the rise

Published on October 4, 2019 · Last updated November 16, 2020
backyard cannabis plant homegrow
Jesse Milns/Leafly

Thanks to legalization, there gets to be a legal ‘first time’ for everything cannabis-related.

This spring and summer it was the first legal seeds in the ground, and this summer and fall was supposed to be about stories of legal homegrown excellence.

There have been some of those—salute to Duncan BC’s Cowichan Exhibition for adding a best-cannabis category to its agricultural judging and encouraging locals to grow their own competitively. But more numerous have been stories of one drawback critics warned would occur—plant theft.
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Because cannabis plants in flower emit a smelly riot of terpenes, they’re easy to find even from a distance.

While seeds only cost $15 apiece, properly tended outdoor plants can bear 100 grams of bud or more, making the average suburban backyard four-plant grow a desirable target for thieves. And though decades of stoner comedy have suggested weed theft is inherently frivolous, the amount of money involved has brought in frightening characters.

What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do?

In one instance, men wearing masks stole plants from a backyard in Colchester, Ontario. In another instance, an Oshawa man confronted two men stealing his plants from his yard at 3:45 a.m., only to have them stab him and escape.

However one truly new aspect in play with cannabis theft is the approval of The Man: not only may your home or renter’s insurance cover some of the cost of replacing stolen plants, but you may also call the fuzz and tell them you got burned.

Your mileage may vary, but one homegrower in London, Ontario was surprised when he gave police the wallet a thief, who dropped it while stealing his plants. London police were able to retrieve and return his plants to him fair and square.

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Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.
View Jesse B. Staniforth's articles
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