City grapples with how to regulate people who grow medical pot at home

Posted at 9:16 AM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 09:17:05-05

People growing medical marijuana in their homes are causing problems for the city. The fire department says it's had to respond to fires started by the lights used to grow the plants and the Lansing Board of Water and Light says those lights can overload circuits and damage public electrical equipment.

"We're very concerned that they can be dangerous in the community," Elaine Womboldt of Rejuvenating South Lansing said.

She says she's especially worried about older homes whose wiring can't handle as much electricity. "My concern to the firemen, if there's something you can do to prevent a fire, we should do that," Womboldt said. Others at Thursday's City Council Public Safety Committee meeting said the smell is a nuisance. But state law says people have a right to grow medical marijuana in their homes.

"If the smell's bothering someone, we work with the communities and give them the education that they need rather than just trying to shut down everyone's home grow," Kelly Brown, who attended the meeting, said.

That's part of the city's plan, as well as putting together an ordinance that requires all home businesses that use more than 5000 KWH per month (that's 10 times the city average of 552 KWH per month for a private residence) be registered and inspected. "I have mixed feelings on it I understand safety concerns for high usage, however I do understand that in the medical marijuana act there's no one allowed to come into the grows," Brown said.

Both sides of the argument agree that there should be some regulation and that the current ordinance needs work.

"This is a good starting ground, I'm very encouraged," Womboldt said.

"If we work together then we could craft a good plan that would work for the neighborhoods with the people that want to have home grows," Brown said.

The Public Safety Committee is still working on the ordinance. When it approves it, it will be sent to the Lansing City Council for more discussion and a vote.