I believe I’ve written about grow houses here before. For those who aren’t familiar, a grow house is a house which is used for indoor marijuana cultivation. Most grow houses are converted, to some extent; fixtures ripped out, carpeting torn up, hack jobs on the wiring, etc. People use houses for growing because, well, there’s a certain amount of camouflage; you see a house, you think it’s a place where people live, not a place where weed is being grown. And they’re convenient. Well insulated, already wired, water supply, etc.
So, there are a couple of problems with grow houses. The cops here don’t like them because they can attract illegal activity when growers are dumb and deal out of wherever they are growing. To be fair, marijuana-related crimes are on the rise up here. And, of course, the cops don’t like weed. Until pretty recently, the cops couldn’t actually do anything about it, because there would be enough 215 cards* to cover all the plants. The City recently changed that by passing an ordinance which effectively bans grow houses.
Property owners tend not to like grow houses, because they think that they bring down property values. And, obviously, if it’s your own house that gets gutted by shitty tenants who grow, it’s doubly irritating. I honestly don’t have much sympathy for people who whine about declines in their grossly overinflated property values, but I do note that people somehow think it’s acceptable to totally neglect their properties when property values decline, so as a neighborhood pride thing, declines in property values concern me, since I would rather not live in a hellpit of neglected shitholes.
My problem with grow houses is that I am opposed to conversion of residential property for commercial/agricultural/any sort of non-residential use. I am a huge advocate for density, and would rather see all residential units occupied before more housing units are built. With every conversion, that’s a house that’s not available for someone to live in. That annoys me. Because it will be used as a justification by developers to push for building disgusting ugly housing developments where there used to be nice open fields.
But, recently, I’ve discovered yet another reason to be annoyed by grow houses. Astute readers may have noticed that I’m frequently referencing the fact that the power is out at my house all the time. We are not living in an era of rolling blackouts, people, it’s just our little section of town, and it’s constant, and it’s really annoying. I initially thought that the problems stemmed back to the power outage in 2008 when power for the whole neighborhood got wonky.
However, I ran into a PGE crew when they were working in the neighborhood, and they told me that the transformer in our neighborhood keeps blowing. There’s only one reason for a transformer to be blowing repeatedly: the demand on power is too high, too often. Our transformer is obviously designed to handle a substantial amount of residential loads. But what it’s not equipped to handle? The huge energy suck represented by a grow house. Of which we have at least two that I know of.
So, now it’s personal. I really, really, really don’t like it when my power goes out. You know what happens then? I can’t work, I don’t have hot water, and things in my fridge go bad. All of these things piss me off. And knowing that our power keeps going off because some fuckwit growers are overloading our transformer? That really pisses me off.
It’s also a stupid move on the part of the growers. The DEA can and does take action against growers/dispensaries/etc in California, because, hello, marijuana is illegal. One of the red flags they look for is excessive energy usage. So, having a transformer blow, repeatedly? It’s kind of like a giant sign that says “HI THERE! WE GROW MARIJUANA HERE! PLEASE COME RAID US!”
The grow houses in the neighborhood have been brought to the attention of the cops by the neighborhood watch, so I know the police are aware of them, but for whatever reason, they aren’t being raided. I’m not privy to the details, so I don’t want to speculate on why, but I do think it’s interesting here that we have a situation where we are explicitly reporting grow houses, power usage is spiking to back up our claims, and there are numerous unoccupied units on/near the block which cops have previously found squats in, yet nothing is being done.
The solution to this problem? In the long term, I mean? Fucking legalize marijuana, already. If it’s legal, there’s no point to growing in residential properties, because you can establish your very own growing facility openly, in your very own greenhouse, which is where indoor should be grown. If it’s legal, you don’t need to poach on private land to grow. If it’s legal, prices drop, which drives the nasties out of the business because there’s no rampant profiteering possibility. If it’s legal, we can free up law enforcement and legal resources for something more productive, like busting child molesters. And, of course, we’ll collapse the black market which is propping up the local economy, but that’s a discussion for another day.
*Despite the fact that the Mary Jane is illegal federally, if you have a 215 card in California (a reference to Proposition 215, which allows cultivation/use of marijuana on compassionate grounds), you are allowed a set number of plants. Patients who are really sick can have someone else grow plants for them on their 215 card. So what some growers do is get a bunch of 215 cards, enough to account for all their plants, so that their operations are technically legal under state law.