There’s a new cannabis-related use for foreclosed homes in California. The homes are being re-purposed into grow houses. As reported in the NY Times, “On a suburban block with six family homes, palm trees and views of the surrounding green hills, nothing at 110 Windsor Court stood out. Its occupants, who had moved into the foreclosed house a few years earlier, were quiet types. Until, that is, the noise from falling roof tiles alerted neighbors to a fire there one morning. Stephen Snowden, who lived nearby, banged on the front door. Nobody was inside, but firefighters discovered that the house had been converted into a type of illegal business found increasingly in suburbia: a marijuana grow house.
The entire second floor of the five-bedroom, 2,251-square-foot home, as well as parts of the first floor, was used to cultivate marijuana plants. “They just blended right in,” Mr. Snowden said of the residents. “They left early for work and came back late in the afternoon. They mowed their lawn, took out their trash and got groceries. There was never any extra foot traffic.”
Organized marijuana growers are shifting to the suburbs from rural and commercial areas, helped by a housing crisis that created a glut of affordable, spacious houses and a stream of new residents to previously more stable communities. Houses that sold for $1 million before the crisis have been turned into grow houses, equipped with the high-intensity lights, water and air-filtering systems necessary to produce potent, high-quality marijuana. Many grow houses go unnoticed, even by next-door neighbors, until there is a fire, typically caused by unsafe electrical wiring. Local police forces, especially in California, which has permitted the limited cultivation of marijuana for medical use since 1996, have stopped seeking out grow houses.
Law enforcement officials, especially in local forces that have been downsized during the financial crisis, say they lack the resources to go after grow houses. They also say that California laws have created an environment tolerant of marijuana cultivation in general.
It’s an interesting story you will enjoy at the NY Times.
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