City says no more marijuana grow operations | C & G Newspapers

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TROY — The Troy City Council put a 180-day moratorium on issuing permits to allow registered caregivers to operate marijuana growing facilities and postponed making a decision on allowing and/or regulating larger commercial growing facilities in the city pending further study of the issue. 

The council voted unanimously on two resolutions on the issue April 24, after reviewing information at a study session held before the regular meeting. 

Current state guidelines stipulate that a designated caregiver may grow up to 72 plants — 12 for each registered patient, up to six patients — in one location in an enclosed space, by permit.

Although under federal law it’s illegal to possess or grow marijuana, federal officials are not prosecuting growers at the present time, Troy Assistant Attorney Alan Motzny explained to the council during the study session. 

Troy Planning Director R. Brent Savidant told the council that as of December 2016, there were 59 designated caregiver grow facilities for up to 72 plants in 33 buildings located in industrial/business districts in Troy. 

“I’m confident the number would be higher today,” Savidant said. 

“Once a permit has been issued, there’s nothing to ensure compliance,” Motzny said. 

Currently, the city does not have the ability to verify the identity of the registered patients or caregivers due to confidentiality provisions. The city also can’t verify that the marijuana is being used for medical purposes by the registered patients. 

State lawmakers have enacted new guidelines to put in place a tracking system to track all marijuana grown and sold in the state. The state has not awarded a contract for the system, but has sent out requests for proposals. The tracking system would be up and running within 180 days after a contract is awarded. 

In addition, a new state statute, the Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, would allow commercial medical marijuana operations in industrial or agricultural zones if municipalities pass resolutions to approve them. These would include grow facilities for up to 1,500 plants, processing facilities for medical marijuana-infused plants, safety compliance centers to test potency and purity, dispensaries to sell medical marijuana and edible marijuana, and transport facilities. 

Troy Police Lt. Russ Harden told the council that in 2014, police received nine calls for service for marijuana growing operations and five calls for service in 2015, among them two property owners who had found abandoned grow operations on newly purchased property. 

Harden said that in 2016, police responded to nine calls for service at marijuana grow operations, and they shut down one illegal operation. 

This year, Harden said, they have received reports of break-ins at two commercial grow facilities. One of them was on Minnesota Road, near Maple and Dequindre, which police discovered was not in compliance — police issued a warrant, seized all of the plants and cited the owner for multiple building code violations. Harden said many plants were stolen from that site. 

Police received a report April 19 that a grow facility on Thunderbird Drive, near Maple and Livernois roads, had been broken into, but nothing appeared stolen. Harden said that case remains under investigation. 

Troy resident Jim Naughton said he supports law enforcement and wants to be sure they have the tools to regulate, monitor and enforce things that need to be enforced.  

“They do a great job. Their plate is very full. We don’t need to add something more onto their plate and potentially bear the cost of that as a community,” he said. “I don’t want this kind of activity in the neighborhood,” he said. 

Naughton cited the low crime rate in Troy. 

“I’d like to see us keep it that way,” he said. 

“We have more questions than answers. To have the moratorium seems like a smart move,” said Councilman Ethan Baker. “It’s wise to do that. We need time to figure things out.” 

“It would be helpful to me to see some other ordinance examples,” said Mayor Dane Slater.

Councilwoman Edna Ibrahim said the council should take 180 days to study the issue to “make wise decisions and balance those with medical needs to younger citizens at risk.” 

The council unanimously approved adopting the 180-day moratorium to prohibit any new grow facilities for up to 72 plants and unanimously postponed making a decision to enact any ordinances to regulate or allow commercial grow facilities in the city while they gather additional information on the issue and review and discuss it at a study session in coming weeks. 

Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg-Bluhm explained that the state cannot issue any licenses for commercial grow facilities until this December, and then only if municipalities allow them.

About the author

Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.

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