In November of 2012, Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed, allowing adults 21 years and older to purchase and grow marijuana for recreational use. The initiative passed but only by 55 percent, leaving some wondering how the new laws would affect their lives. After one full year of legalization, one such homeowner in Commerce City is wondering if they can stop the smell of marijuana wafting over from five houses down.

On January 24th, Trudy Moser in the Fronterra Village neighborhood pleaded with her homeowners association to fine one particularly smelly house on her street. Last summer, she claims that the smell of marijuana became so strong they were forced to abandon their patio dinners. Even once inside, the odor made its way through closed doors and windows.

Multiple complaints eventually reached city police and a small task force investigated the property, discovering a downstairs grow room containing 76 plants. When the homeowner was confronted, they produced all the paperwork necessary to prove the legality of the grow operation. The homeowner is a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, and is legally permitted to grow that many plants. Eventually, the district attorney dismissed the case, and the house has continued to waft its aroma into the neighborhood ever since.

Under medical marijuana laws, patients can outsource their marijuana growing needs to caregivers. Each patient can own six plants and one caregiver can take care of up to 10 patients’ growing needs at one time. This particular family also ran a second caregiver grow operation in another house in the neighborhood, and had successfully completed all the applications necessary to do so. Caregivers avoid many of the larger taxes associated with recreational marijuana. By having multiple caregivers pool together, their basement plants have remained legal, but the strong smell has continued to upset neighbors. Colorado is attempting to rectify some of these legal alternatives, but in the meantime, no legal action can be taken.

Still, Trudy Moser hopes the homeowners association will clean up the smell where the police could not.

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