Growing marijuana at home has become safer and, some say, less popular as Colorado’s legal landscape has changed.
Under Amendment 64, Colorado residents age 21 and older may grow up to six plants at home. But many users say they aren’t growing their own.
“At the end of the day, there’s not that many people exercising their right to grow marijuana under Amendment 64 – and that’s because people can just go into a store and buy it,” said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado. “It’s like you can homebrew, but you can just go into the liquor store and buy it.”
Marijuana stores also offer a greater variety of products than any home grower can hope to match, featuring different strains, edible marijuana-laced products and accessories.
Before Amendment 64 went into effect, home marijuana grows were often haphazard, and some were blamed for causing fires. Most tragically, in 2009, a Durango man named Dan Middleton was killed when his grow operation caused a fire in his condominium.
Middleton had a medical marijuana card, but he was growing more marijuana than allowed, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal for the Durango Fire Protection District. Hanks said home marijuana grows have become less dangerous in the post-Amendment 64 landscape.
“Now that people can call in an electrician to do the wiring, and now that a lot of growers are switching to LED lights, it’s like the issues are going away, at least here locally,” she said. “I’m feeling much more comfortable, and the individuals I’ve been working with have been more than willing to be compliant with safety rules and regulations, and I appreciate that.”
The city of Durango has had no issues with the lone commercial grower within city limits, said Nicole Killian, the city’s planning manager.
Most local growers have chosen to locate outside of city limits, placing them under La Plata County’s jurisdiction. Butch Knowlton, director of the county Building Department, did not return calls seeking comment.
Some multifamily residences continue to ban marijuana grows despite changes in state law. At Hillcrest Apartments, Durango’s largest apartment development with 112 units, language in the lease agreement explicitly bars the “manufacture” of marijuana, said a representative who declined to be identified.
Landlords can also ban pot growing at home by specifying so in the lease, Vicente said.
Many homeowners associations have pre-Amendment 64 rules detailing acceptable paint colors for your home, but nothing that bars growing weed in your closet. HOA representatives weren’t eager to discuss the matter; none returned calls seeking comment.
Vicente said he expects neighborhood rules to evolve.
“Over time we think more and more communities will embrace this.”