Warren seeks oversight of pot growing operations, users

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Warren — Residents who grow medical marijuana in their homes may soon have to follow stricter regulations under a law proposed by Mayor Jim Fouts.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require residents to register with the town’s building department if they are growing and selling medical marijuana, provide the names of their patients and be subjected to inspections by the city. The council vote was 6-1.

The law also calls for installing filters in homes to prevent the smell of the drug from polluting the neighborhood, Fouts said.

The mayor said in the past year marijuana growth operations in Warren homes have led to fires, at least one explosion and brought increased traffic to some neighborhoods from patients or buyers.

Fouts said officials need to monitor these operations to make sure the equipment is safe and that marijuana is being sold for medical purposes and not recreational use.

“People shouldn’t be allowed to do this without some control,” Fouts told The Detroit News. “We are not going to check on people’s houses but when we have a complaint, we will go there and if they aren’t registered they will face the penalty.”

Violating the ordinance is punishable by up to a $500 fine or up to 90 days in jail.

Not everyone is sold on the proposed law.

Matthew Abel, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he believes requiring patients or caregivers with state registration cards to also register with the city violates the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

He said Warren’s tactics are “heavy-handed” and that growing medical marijuana at home should not be a hazard when done properly.

“The city of Warren may be able to regulate some types of activity,” Abel said. “But I think they are going to lose in court if they are going to require a patient or caregiver to register with the city.”

Michigan legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2008, allowing patients registered with the state to grow up to 12 marijuana plants in a secure location, including their home. Registered caregivers are allowed to grow 12 plants each for up to five patients.

Fouts said several residents have complained to him about a “skunk” smell coming from the houses where medical marijuana is grown.

He said he is also concerned that without oversight, the homes with marijuana grow operations could attract burglars since it is a cash business.

The second reading and adoption of the ordinance will be considered at the next council meeting April 12.


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Twitter: @NicquelTerry