Aurora police seek new cap on home-grow marijuana operations

According to city documents, the total number of summonses issued for marijuana jumped from 67 to 121 — an 80-percent increase — from 2013 to 2014. The total annual fines the city issued for residential marijuana grows also doubled from around $52,000 to more than $100,00 in the same years.

AURORA | The number of recreational marijuana plants residents can grow in their homes could change under a measure proposed by Aurora police.

File photo by Gabriel ChristusUnder the measure, the city would cap each household at 12 plants, and would allow half of those plants to be flowering at any given time. That’s a reduction from the current ordinance which allows six plants per resident in a home.

Police and fire officials in Aurora have reported problems caused by people growing too many plants in their homes. They say residents with a large number of plants are mixing harmful chemicals and fertilizers, and that the high humidity level in some homes, especially multi-family units, is causing mold to form.

“We’re going into houses with several hundred plants,” said Scott Pendleton, a  narcotics sergeant with Aurora Police. “There are dangerous situations where residents are using excessive amounts of electricity to operate grows. Some people grow so many (plants) that you can smell it outside. It creates a quality of life issue for neighbors.”

He said the city has seen an increase in fires caused by electrical issues related to marijuana grows.

“Most of these result from people not using certified electricians to do their work. They’re doing it on their own, and lot of them don’t know how to do serious electrical wiring,” he said.

Police and fire officials in Aurora have reported problems caused by people growing too many plants in their homes. They say residents with a large number of plants are mixing harmful chemicals and fertilizers, and that the high humidity level in some homes, especially multi-family units, is causing mold to form.

Pendleton said at a recent public safety committee meeting that the number of residents growing marijuana at home has increased significantly since Amendment 64 was passed in 2012. Despite hiring two additional officers through the city’s Marijuana Enforcement Division to deal with the larger workload, Pendleton said the city still does not have enough staff to deal with the number of summonses issued and additional felony arrests.

The Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Division consists of three officers in addition to Pendleton.

According to city documents, the total number of summonses issued for marijuana jumped from 67 to 121 — an 80-percent increase — from 2013 to 2014.  The total annual fines the city issued for residential marijuana grows also doubled from around $52,000 to more than $100,00 in the same years.

According to Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman, the maximum fine for a resident convicted after a marijuana summons is $2,650.

“We’re going into houses with several hundred plants,” said Scott Pendleton, a  narcotics sergeant with Aurora Police. “There are dangerous situations where residents are using excessive amounts of electricity to operate grows. Some people grow so many (plants) that you can smell it outside. It creates a quality of life issue for neighbors.”

Pendleton said the police only expect the problem to get worse.

“The number of marijuana grows in residences is up significantly this year over any previous year,”  he said.  “Last year we had 144 (residential) grows. This year, we’re on pace to have 166 grows.”

The measure was passed unanimously by the committee and heads to a regular council meeting next.

Aurora Councilman Bob LeGare, chair of the committee, said he agreed with the measure but hopes city staff will do more to get the word out before it is passed by the full council.

City spokeswoman Lori MacKenzie said city staff are looking into putting together a communications and outreach plan to let residents know about the potential change in the number of plants they can grow at home.

Though the majority of cities in the state defer to Amendment 64 regulations — which allows six plants per resident over 21 years old —  Aurora’s proposed measure is similar to what has been implemented in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette.

  • Squid

    This is a good idea. If anyone has walked or even driven by one of the homes with a large amount of plants, the smell is overwhelming.

    • Fed up

      In general, is it the smell or the fact you know its marijuana?

      • Squid

        It is the smell. Awareness of the plant has no odor.

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  • Fed up

    People can be idiots for sure. There are collectors then there are horders. 6 is most reasonable unless you are growing for profit.