Protect Colorado Springs Home Grows Part Deus
Protect Colorado Springs Home Grows Part Deux
BY: Audrey Hatfield
All right people, here we go again. If you are a cannabis patient in Colorado, it’s time for you to step up your game and get involved with your rights. Things have changed for cannabis patients in the last few months around our beautiful state and don’t say you weren’t warned! Have you been paying attention? If not, NOW would be a good time with so much at stake. At a time when we were moving forward, we are now taking two steps back. We are being made criminals once again by these discriminatory ordinances and plant count limits.
In my first article, titled, “Protect Colorado Springs Home Grows,”I wrote about the sneakiness happening under all of our noses in the form of new “fire ordinances,” and or new “plant count limits” for cannabis grows in Colorado Springs and soon thru-out Colorado. These will affect ALL patients needing more than six plants to treat their illnesses. As predicted, several more Colorado towns have added some type of ordinance or count limit at the recommendation of the MED. A few of those limits are linked below. (For a better understanding of this article, please refer to my first one for better clarification and understanding of this one. ( https://kiefair.com/2016/06/15/protect-colorado-springs-home-grows/ )
Below Follows some of the recent Press coverage of this issue
People cultivating or processing marijuana in their unincorporated Boulder County homes would have to comply with new restrictions and conditions up for county Planning Commission review on Wednesday.
One of those proposed restrictions would limit such indoor marijuana growing, or the production of marijuana-infused products, to single-family residential dwelling units, according to Bryan Harding, a senior planner in Boulder County’s Land Use Department.
Boulder County marijuana regulations
What: Boulder County’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed revisions to Land Use Code regulations about growing or processing marijuana in homes in unincorporated areas of the county
When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Third-floor hearing room, Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder
Info: The Planning Commission will make recommendations about the Land Use Code provisions to the Board of County Commissioners, which is tentatively scheduled to hold its own hearing April 5. The code changes currently being proposed by the Land Use Department staff are available online, at bit.ly/21mhALi
Marijuana couldn’t be grown, and pot-infused products couldn’t be made, inside duplex, condominium or apartment units, Harding said. Nor could marijuana processed or cultivated in homes be “for the purpose of sale or profit,” the proposed regulations specify
In general, the indoor growing or processing would only be allowed when it’s “by and for the individuals living on the parcel.”
Another of the proposed Boulder County Land Use Code changes would specify that no more than a total of six plants be growing indoors on that parcel of single-family residential property.
The county’s code now allows people to grow marijuana for their own recreational or medical use — or by caregivers of state-registered medical-marijuana patients — as long as the activity occupies no more than 300 square feet of area within the home.
The Land Use Department staff said that 300 square-foot allowance now could make it possible for a resident to grow more than 100 plants indoors, exceeding what’s permitted by Colorado marijuana laws.
The proposed code changes would also try to address some of the complaints Boulder County has received about the residential cultivation and processing of marijuana, Harding said — complaints raising concerns about odors as well as possible fires, explosions and potential exposure to hazardous materials.
The proposed code would also specify that residential marijuana processing and cultivation “must not result in noise or vibration, light, odor, dust, smoke, particulate or other air pollution noticeable at or beyond the property line.”
Boulder County’s Land Use Code applies only to unincorporated areas. Cities and towns have their own municipal codes about whether or where marijuana can be grown or processed, and how it must be done if it is allowed.
Harding reported that the county staff got 153 written comments about the proposed changes to the inside-the-homes growing and processing provisions, with 136 generally supporting the revisions, 11 opposing them, three indicating they had “no conflict” with the proposals and three posing questions or comments but not taking stands.
Supporters’ letters included concerns about potential fires, Harding said, with their authors noting that several house and electrical fires in wildfire-prone areas of the county have been attributed to residential marijuana grows’ overloaded electrical systems.
Other code-change supporters wrote of their fears for the safety of neighbors who might be affected by a fire or explosion during marijuana-concentrate extractions, and several warned about potential crimes related to residential growing operations.
Harding said code-change opponents’ objections included contentions that a six-plant-per-parcel limit was too restrictive and wouldn’t provide enough usable marijuana for medical patients to grow for their own purposes.
One critic “questioned the enforceability of marijuana regulations when other residential uses and activities also have an impact on neighbors, such as loud noises from lawn mowers or barbecue smoke that drifts across property lines,” Harding said.
Douglas County commissioners passed one of Colorado’s toughest marijuana grow ordinances Tuesday, restricting the number of plants at any primary residence to 12, banning outdoor grows and prohibiting tenants in rental properties from cultivating the drug without permission from the property owner.
The new restrictions apply to unincorporated portions of the county and come in response to what law enforcement officials say is a proliferation of small-scale grow operations popping up in private homes across Douglas County.
“We’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years,” said Chief Deputy Steve Johnson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s really gotten out of control.”
Johnson said some grow operations overload electrical capacity, increasing the risk of a fire. The county’s ordinance also prohibits the use of compressed flammable gas, such as butane, in growing pot.
Douglas County’s new regulations could invite litigation from those who claim they run afoul of the state’s medical marijuana statutes, acknowledged deputy county attorney Kelly Dunnaway. The state permits caregivers to grow six plants per patient but Douglas County places its limit of 12 plants per household on “any person, including but not limited to patients, primary caregivers, or persons for personal use.”
But Dunnaway said the county is in the right legally because it has power to regulate marijuana cultivation through its land use powers. As such, the new ordinance limits the total space used for growing to a contiguous 1,000 cubic feet and limits marijuana cultivation to one structure on a single plot. If that structure is an accessory to a home, then the land must be 1 acre or larger.
Areas used for growing or processing will also have to be fully enclosed and locked. The common areas of a multifamily or attached residential development are not permitted as grow areas.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the ordinance. Violators could be fined up to $1,000.
The Longmont City Council on Tuesday reached consensus around issues related to regulating marijuana home grows.
The council largely agreed with proposed draft language city staff had drafted, with a couple of additions.
Currently, Longmont residents are governed by state law, which allows Coloradans to grow up to six plants per resident over 21 in their homes for personal use. Marijuana use and cultivation is still illegal under federal law.
But under Colorado law, plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area that can’t be viewed openly. Municipalities can pass stricter laws related to home grows if they choose.
The council generally approved of the direction staff proposed in the draft ordinance. The draft ordinance would prohibit grows:
• located anywhere other than a primary residence
• with more than six plants per residence
• not in a secure location or accessible to people under 21 years old
• using compressed flammable gas (butane)
• smells strongly enough that it is “detectable by a person with an ordinary sense of smell” from any adjoining property or public right-of-way
• does not follow the rest of Longmont’s city codes
Councilwoman Polly Christensen was the only one of the six council members present (Councilman Brian Bagley was absent) who advocated for allowing residents to grow marijuana plants outside.
“It doesn’t make sense to forbid them to grow outside when plants are meant to be grown outside. We would confine them to inside housing, which we desperately need,” Christensen said.
After staff members explained, however, how municipal law must intersect with Colorado law and other concerns with outdoor marijuana plants, the other five council members did not take to Christensen’s idea.
Police Officer Sara Aerne told council that, besides odor, outdoor marijuana plants also tend to pose security problems with theft.
“There are tons of questions with theft and constant calls from neighbors about someone growing pot plants over the fence,” Aerne said in response to a question as to why the plants wouldn’t be allowed in a greenhouse.
Additionally, Christensen had concerns about the provision of the draft ordinance that would allow Longmont inspectors to enter any home where a grow is operating “during reasonable hours” to make sure the grow complies with city code.
“If there was a 24-hour or 48-hour notice I feel people wouldn’t mind as much,” Christensen said. “I think it’s just treating people with medical conditions or growing for their own use assuming they’re criminals. It would be more respectful to give them notice.”
Mayor Dennis Coombs said that he thought giving someone notice could cause them to hide excess plants or other violations. In general, the council didn’t reach consensus around changing the draft-ordinance language to provide more notice.
Under the draft, a violation would be an administrative penalty. Council did, however, reach a consensus for higher penalty fees.
“I like administrative penalties but I would suggest though they need to be higher than the potential value of the product that’s being produced so there’s a reason for them to not want to violate our code,” Councilman Jeff Moore said. “So $100 is not adequate. Six (plants) could be, I don’t know, $1,000 worth of product?”
Assistant City Attorney Teresa Taylor Tate clarified that Longmont is allowed to fine people no more than $999 per violation. Councilman Gabe Santos asked that there be a stiffer punishment — perhaps a criminal violation — for repeat offenders. The council reached a consensus on that point.
They also reached a consensus on asking for clarification on the odor piece of the proposed ordinance.
Assistant City Manager Shawn Lewis said that when staff brings the ordinance back for first reading on Sept. 27, they will provide the council with some alternate language because there are machines that can measure odor.
A new ordinance seeks to reduce the number of plants allowed for home growth
The home in the orderly Kentley Hills subdivision of Highlands Ranch — where the average sales price is $587,000 — looks like many others on the street, except for a few details:
There are rarely cars in the driveway.
On garbage day, no trashcans are set out.
The grass in the front yard is browning.
Trucks visit in the middle of the night.
And a smell of marijuana seeps from the house on Bentwood Circle into the neighborhood.
“It’s unbearable,” said James, a neighbor who asked that his last name not be used because he said he fears for his family’s safety. “For my kids, it’s uncomfortable to play outside.”
The home — about a half mile from Heritage Elementary School — was reported to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in April because of the continuous odor and traffic in and out of the house. It is one of 20 homes in Douglas County reported to the sheriff’s office during the first five months of 2016 for complaints related to marijuana cultivation.
“We have this going on in all parts of Douglas County — they aren’t confined to one area,” said Chief Deputy Steve Johnson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The number of complaints about marijuana cultivation in the county jumped from 24 in 2014 to 45 in 2015. This is one reason the sheriff’s office is working with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to adopt an ordinance regulating marijuana grows in unincorporated parts of the county.
The ordinance, which is scheduled for an Aug. 9 public hearing, focuses on several key areas: where marijuana can be grown; plant limits per home; a ban on compressed, flammable gas and flammable liquids; the smell or odor produced; and growing at a rental property.
The key element, though, is the limit on the number of plants allowed at a single residence.
“It’s something that will give us the opportunity to temper a situation that is grossly out of control right now,” Johnson said of the ordinance.
In 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use and home-growing for adults 21 years of age and older. It allows an individual to grow six marijuana plants at a time in his or her home for personal use.
But state medical marijuana laws laid out in 2000 when Amendment 20 legalized the use of pot for medical reasons, allows a caregiver to grow up to 99 plants depending on the number of patients and physician prescriptions, according to Mark Salley of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which regulates medical marijuana.
As of May, Colorado had 106,066 active medical marijuana patients, and during that month 235 physicians recommended medical marijuana for active patients, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Severe pain is the documented condition for 92.8 percent of patients.
The ordinance being considered by Douglas County commissioners would cap the number of plants allowed at any state of maturity to 12 plants per household, whether the growing is done by patients, caregivers or for personal use.
Loopholes in Colorado medical marijuana laws have allowed people to home-grow marijuana for illegal profit under the guise of medical use, Johnson said. This is an issue facing counties and municipalities throughout the state.
“One of the frustrations for us as law enforcement is when we walk away from a basement that’s been converted into a grow operation and they’re hiding behind a medical marijuana card,” Johnson said. “Is there a chance that they’re harvesting it, packaging it and shipping it out of state for financial reward?”
The ordinance, Johnson said, would lessen the chance of illegal grows in the county and make the community safer.
“This is a public safety problem,” Johnson said, adding that when a grow house is converted haphazardly, it poses a risk to everyone in the area.
A big risk is fire, which can occur if modifications have been made to the electrical system in the house, and if large amounts of chemicals or butane gas are used in confined spaces without proper ventilation, he said. This is often the case when processing hash oil from marijuana plants.
Such a fire broke out July 25 in Nederland in a home where a mix of chemicals and fuel from hash oil sparked an explosion, according to the Nederland Fire Department.
Other safety concerns, Johnson said, are risks of robbery and home invasion.
“Where there’s illegal activity, there are illegal crimes that occur,” he said, adding that it also puts neighbors of those illegal operations at risk.
Both Johnson and James mentioned a recent home invasion in Golden as an example.
On the night of May 16, police say three male suspects knocked on the door of a home with the intent to steal drugs and $10,000. But they entered the wrong house and homeowner Jesse Swift, a middle school teacher, was stabbed during the encounter.
“I don’t want that happening here,” James said. “There’s a constant fear factor. I’m always on the alert. My wife is constantly scared.”
An initial investigation of the Kentley Hills marijuana grow operation showed that it is legal and in compliance, with paperwork allowing up to 99 plants to be grown for medical use, Johnson said. At the time of the check in April, the sheriff’s office reported 60 plants growing inside the house.
It takes 90 days for a marijuana plant to grow to maturity, which depending on the strand and growing process can grow up to 6 feet, Johnson said. Each plant can produce a pound of marijuana.
Johnson said he could not say when the medical marijuana permit for the home was issued because of medical privacy laws.
According to hotpads.com, a rental website, the home was listed as a rental in February. In April, the first complaints were filed with the sheriff’s office.
James has lived in Highlands Ranch since 2001 and the last four years with his family in their Kentley Hills home on a street filled with families and friendly neighbors.
During the day, he rarely sees anyone at the “grow house,” James said. But in the middle of the night, trucks pull in with groups of people for a couple of hours, before speedily leaving the neighborhood.
His 11-year-old daughter, who likes to swing in the front yard and take her cat out to play in the grass, said the smell coming from the home gives her a headache and a cough, which makes her not want to go outside anymore.
“It makes me sick,” James said. “I never thought of the possibility of a grow operation in my neighborhood.”
Fremont County PDF of new ordininances
For instance, Colorado Springs is trying to enforce the following with the added, “Appendix P” of their indoor “Flora” ordinance which as of yet has not been signed by the Mayor, but trust me, he will sign it, it’s his agenda. “The fire code official is authorized to enter and examine any building, structure, vehicle or premises in accordance with Section 104.3 of the International Fire Code for the purpose of enforcing this code. The fire code official is authorized to conduct inspections as are deemed necessary to determine the extent of compliance with the provisions of this code and to approve reports of inspection by approved agencies or individuals. All reports of such inspections shall be prepared and submitted in writing for review and approval. Inspection reports shall be certified by a responsible officer of an approved agency or by the responsible individual. The fire code official is authorized to engage expert opinion as deemed necessary to report upon unusual, detailed or complex technical issues subject to the approval of the governing body.”
I gotta hand it to them, they did their very best not to make this look they “aren’t” singling out cannabis patients by adding the following verbage, “For the purposes of this code, flora shall include non-indigenous as well.” Hahaha! I seriously doubt they will bother with people growing veggies, but nice try. How many people do you know that are actually growing fruits and veggies indoors? Very few would be my guess. Read the ordinance for yourself and try not to laugh too hard over it, it is quite amusing, you may get a chuckle or two, I know I did!
The question now is, what, if anything, can YOU do about all of this? You do have rights! Let me reiterate, that there are over 108,000 “registered,” cannabis patients in Colorado. From what I have seen, there are only a handful of people getting involved with this injustice! Before the end of the year most all jurisdictions will have either a plant count limit or some sort of “ordinance” negating some of our rights under Amendment 20.
You might say, “I don’t grow, so this doesn’t affect me.” THE HELL IT DOESN’T! It affects us all! Take an example from Moms Rebecca Lockwood and Marisa Kiser, both Moms have children with debilitating illnesses and both have high plant counts to make the lifesaving cannabis oil that has been so successful in treating those illnesses.
On July 25 of this year, the Moms took a trip up to Denver to meet with well-known attorney, Robert Corry. So far the ladies have raised over $13,000 from various fundraisers to pay for legal fees in regards to suing the City of Colorado Springs for not only the plant count limit, but also for the ban on making concentrates with alcohol in the city, (another discriminating ordinance, as it is legal in the state to make concentrates with alcohol.) Great job ladies!
As of September 14 of this year, their case is going statewide and they need plaintiffs. Here is an excerpt from Rebeccas Facebook page, “Our lawsuit is going statewide. Our case will challenge the 99 plant caregiver bill in the state of Colorado. Right now, the only city that will have an injunction filed against these new unconstitutional grow ordinances is Colorado Springs. If you want an injunction filed to stop similar grow ordinances in your city, you need to get the following info to me ASAP.
-address (this will be protected in court)
-copy of front & back of your red card
-copy of your dr recommended plant count
-bio including your diagnosis & why you need an extended plant count
Please print all of the documentation & message me so we can meet to make sure all records I requested are included. I don’t want to pay additional attorney fees for our lawyer to go through all of the paperwork.
Several people are excited about this but only one person who will act as a plaintiff in Pueblo has agreed to join. Do not let this opportunity pass. We’ve done all of the leg work and fundraising. All you have to do is get this info to me & your city will have an injunction filed against their ordinance.
LET’S DO THIS!”
Please contact the ladies ONLY if you are willing to provide ALL of the documentation requested. They do not have the time to do this for you, that will be the responsibility of each patient that is interested so please take note.
These ladies lead extremely busy lives between work and caring for their ill children and they stood up and made the time to take action against this bullshit! You have no excuses! Many of us as patients have illnesses and work full-time. Do something to involve yourself! Anything!
We can all can show support thru many different avenues. If you can’t make it to one of the only monthly protests going on in the Springs, write emails, make phone calls, volunteer to help spread the word, hand out fliers, go to meetings, start a meeting, join a cannabis group, something!
Seriously, why be stagnant? This affects YOU. I will say this again, If you are a patient that grows, know your rights under Amendment 20 and stand your ground! If you are facing charges contact the CPRC group on Facebook for support and information. https://www.facebook.com/groups/506731742854193/
Keep all related documentation. Be prepared to record any and all police transactions. DO NOT under ANY circumstances, allow the police into your home without a search warrant. DO NOT speak to the police if they come to your home or if you are arrested. DO NOT be swayed by scare tactics. DO NOT take a plea deal. Make them spend the money to take you to court! As long as you have done everything legal under Amendment 20, fuck their made up ordinances! They are infringing upon your rights. Don’t let them! Get involved TODAY and stop making excuses why you can’t! Stand Up People!