DENVER (CBS4) – Denver is cracking down on unlicensed marijuana grow operations which include collective grow facilities for recreational use, and also medical marijuana users and their caregivers.
A city council committee on Tuesday voted to limit the number of plants to 36 per non-residential grow operation.
The city said 40 percent of all marijuana in Colorado comes from non-regulated facilities and backed up their findings with photo evidence. The city released pictures taken at unlicensed grow houses. At one location there were chemical signs on the door as well as a notice of suspension for retail marijuana license from the state Department of Revenue.
More than 2,000 plants were found in some facilities and weapons were confiscated at one location.
“We’re working right now to get it into control,” Executive Director of Marijuana Policy Ashley Kilroy told CBS4. “It has grown exponentially, and they’ve gotten even bigger and bigger, even within the last couple of months.”
Marijuana within reach of three children was found in one place. That pot traced was back to improper disposal in a dumpster. At another, electrical wiring was identified as a possible fire hazard. There were also blocked exit doors in one grow facility.
Licensed marijuana businesses are concerned about unlicensed grow operations by caregivers.
“The number one concern that I have with caregivers is the diversion to the black market — that that will entice the Department of Justice to actually enforce the federal law against licensed regulated businesses,” dispensary owner Luke Ramirez said.
Grow houses need plenty of light. At one location melted plastic was discovered covering hot grow lights. Hazardous materials were found to be ripe for explosion in certain conditions.
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But caregiver Jonathan Shifrin asks why they should be restricted.
“If caregivers are fully compliant, are to code with fire, are inspected; why are they limited to 36 plants only?” Shifrin said.
Approximately 60 locations were discovered where pot was growing in collectives in Denver and other locations without a license.
The proposal still must be passed by the full city council. It carries a year in jail and $999 fine.