DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Counties across Colorado are getting serious about marijuana growing in homes.
Douglas County passed one of the toughest ordinances in the state restricting how much pot can be grown in a home. The sheriff's department says they've taken 40 complaints, this year alone, about issues related to pot growing in homes which prompted the ordinance.
Castle Pines Village is a Douglas County neighborhood known for privacy and picture-perfect views. CBS4's Jennifer Brice met a woman who lives there who says pot has become a problem near her home. CBS4 is calling her Kate because she does not want to be identified. She's concerned about the smell from a nearby rental home.
"It just was very strong and permeating the entire neighborhood," she said. "Over two blocks."
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Police records show the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has been called to the home four times since April. On one call, a deputy took photos of marijuana plants drying inside the garage.
"I don't want her to grow in our neighborhood," said Kate of the tenant. "I don't want to smell the smell."
An officer reported on June 17 that the 35 hangers with 2-foot stalks of pot was not illegal. The renter told police they were growing for personal use, and even showed a medical marijuana card.
Those tenants did not want to talk to CBS4. The property owner did speak but CBS4 is not using his name, nor the tenants' names. The property owner says his renters were upfront.
The owner claims he even checked with his insurance, the HOA, and attorney to make sure pot cultivation in his home would be legal for the tenants. He said recent complaints from the neighbors also prompted his tenants to install a special filter to cut down the odor.
Douglas County Chief Deputy Steve Johnson said pot grows, especially in rental homes, are now creating enough of a problem they passed a new ordinance this August to put limitations in place.
"We adopted 12 plants, per year," said Johnson.
He added that is "for the household as total."
The state allows caregivers to grow six plants per patient. Johnson said that created an environment for large-scale grow operations to happen inside homes, under a legal framework.
Before the Douglas County ordinance, he said, law enforcement had very little ways to enforce what they saw.
"We had these people look at us, smirk, and show their card," said Johnson. "We had a good idea as to what they're doing, fueling the black (marijuana) market under the ruse of medical marijuana."
A Larkspur mansion located off Winged Foot Court, sources said, was a marijuana grow house and was destroyed by a fire. The county's new ordinance would require someone who modifies a home to grow pot, such as the electrical or plumbing, to be done to code. It also says if there is light pollution, odors, heavy traffic or parking as a result of pot growing -- that's a violation. Renters also now need permission to grow from the property owner.
Johnson said rentals are turning into pot grow havens.
"We have people renting their properties basically for nothing more than to grow marijuana," he said. "That's not what we want Douglas County to be."
Neither does Kate. She is not a fan of what the pot culture has brought to Colorado and now near her home.
"Not just for myself but for the kids in the neighborhood," she said.
If the pot ordinance is violated in Douglas County, it will cost $1,000 per day, per violation.
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