Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media, and Justice

Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media, and Justice

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By Susan C. Boyd and Connie Carter
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2014
World Rights
304 Pages 5 Images
ISBN 9781442612143
Published Jan 2014
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ISBN 9781442643673
Published Feb 2014
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442696594
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Since the late 1990s, marijuana grow operations have been identified by media and others as a new and dangerous criminal activity of “epidemic” proportions. With Killer Weed, Susan C. Boyd and Connie Carter use their analysis of fifteen years of newspaper coverage to show how consensus about the dangerous people and practices associated with marijuana cultivation was created and disseminated by numerous spokespeople including police, RCMP, and the media in Canada. The authors focus on the context of media reports in Canada to show how claims about marijuana cultivation have intensified the perception that this activity poses “significant” dangers to public safety and thus is an appropriate target for Canada’s war on drugs.

Boyd and Carter carefully show how the media draw on the same spokespeople to tell the same story again and again, and how a limited number of messages has led to an expanding anti-drug campaign that uses not only police, but BC Hydro and local municipalities to crack down on drug production. Going beyond the newspapers, Killer Weed examines how legal, political, and civil initiatives that have emerged from the media narrative have troubling consequences for a shrinking Canadian civil society.

Susan C. Boyd is a professor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria.

Connie Carter is a senior policy analyst for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

List of Figures and Tables


Introduction: Marijuana Grow Ops: Setting the Scene

Chapter One: A Brief Socio-History of Drug Scares, Racialization, Nation Building, and Policy

Chapter Two: Problematizing Marijuana Grow Ops: Mayerthorpe and Beyond

Chapter Three: Marijuana Grow Ops and Organized Crime

Chapter Four: Racialization of Marijuana Grow Ops

Chapter Five: Civil Responses to Marijuana Grow Ops

Chapter Six: Using Children to Promote Increased Regulation: The Representation and Regulation of Children and Parents Found at Grow Ops

Chapter Seven: Alternative Perspectives


Newspaper References



“This book demonstrates in dramatic detail that cannabis cultivation in Canada is nothing like what it has been portrayed to be. Indeed, if politicians and the media were held to the same professional standards as physicians, they would be sued for malpractice. Boyd and Carter have done prodigious work in exposing the fear-based myths that have been built around "grow-ops." Many of us in the U.S. have looked to Canada in the hope that its drug policies would be wiser and more humane than those of their big neighbor to the south and avoid the racist and repressive tactics that pass for drug policy here. But the authors provide a wealth of fascinating evidence showing that when it comes to failed drug wars, Canada can hold its own.”

Craig Reinarman, Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Killer Weed is an interesting and solid work of critical scholarship that is bound to go up the noses of politicians, legislators and policy-makers.  The book is based on a large fifteen year sample of newspaper articles about marijuana grow ops and their perceived connections to the worlds of law, politics, crime, and justice.  It is a project that blends social construction theory, feminist theory, and cultural criminology to examine media representations of marijuana cultivation and to explain their social significance in relation to race, class, age, and family.  The interpretation of the data is intelligent, comprehensive, and convincing, and the book makes a major contribution to drug studies, media studies, criminal justice politics, and critical social policy.”

John McMullan, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Saint Mary’s University

‘A first-rate book about marijuana, grow operations, and the media in Canada…. The book is both rigorous and sound, and will be of use to academics and graduate students doing work in drug policy, media studies, and sociology… Highly recommended.’

R.Koop, Choice vol 52:03:2014