CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- The number of marijuana plants people in Douglas County can grow at their homes has been drastically reduced following a County Commissioners' vote Tuesday.
State law mandates a maximum of 99 marijuana plants can be grown in one residence, but Tuesday's vote now reduces that number to 12.
The new ordinance also outlines new safety regulations within the home.
Chief Deputy Steve Johnson with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said there is growing concern that wide-spread grow operations in the county are being used to illegally traffic marijuana out-of-state for sale.
“They’re taking a major portion of their home, if not the whole home, and they’re converting it for the growth of marijuana,” said Chief Deputy Johnson. "We have people out there right now that are saying, you know, we can grow it, we can grow as much as we want so we might as well.”
These grow operations are in both rural and suburban parts of the county.
The sheriff's office said it has received several complaints of a strong marijuana odor coming from a home in the Kentley Hills neighborhood of Highlands Ranch.
“We will get a citizen that will call up and say ‘the stench of marijuana coming from this home is just unmanageable, I can’t go out with my children, I can’t go out, there’s traffic all the time to and from this house,’” said Johnson.
He also said there are major safety concerns that come along with these grow operations utilizing what he calls a loop hole in Colorado’s marijuana laws.
“With either illegal activity and or with unintended consequences comes crime and with that comes a threat to the public safety,” he said.
Now, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will be tasked with visiting many of the nearly 50 homes they’ve identified as having large-scale grow operations and asking the homeowners to reduce the amount of plants in the home.
If homeowners don’t comply, fines could add up to $1,000 dollars per day.