The Medical Marijuana zoning issue was presented to the City Planning, Development and Zoning committee last night with about 45 people in attendance. As you might guess there were numerous people in attendance that had concerns about people growing and selling marijuana in residential neighborhoods. Their concerns ranged from just being a bad example to our youth, safety of the neighborhoods due to increased traffic, impaired driving while in route to the growing businesses, the additional possibility of crime around the business, decreased property values, the likelihood of the growers patients selling their legal marijuana for illegal use, and general disruption of their quiet neighborhoods as well as concerns regarding the use of chemicals and other potential problems. Committee chairman Janet Tretheway also said her firefighter husband had some concerns about all the grow lights causing potential fire hazards. Several growers were also in attendance and attempted to educate the audience as to the aspects of their respective businesses and respond to the audiences concerns. When an audience member asked where it was legal to smoke the medical marijuana chairman Tretheway responded that the Montana Public Clean Air act would regulate that the marijuana could not be smoked in any of the places where tobacco products are now forbidden.
Two individuals, Zack Jones and Dustin Malley identified themselves as growers and explained their perceptions of the current law and how they were abiding by it. Malley stated that he currently has 18 patients, which includes himself, and he has 91 plants growing which adequately supply his customers. Dave Stockdill identified himself as a patient and said it was convenient to be able to buy from Malley instead of going out of town. Malley stressed that the growers buy locally and support the community economy.
We at the Corrector think that the City committee charged with this need to further research the potential problems that singling out these growers for special zoning might cause. We currently have an ordinance that forbids home type businesses in residential areas that is not being enforced. If they forbid growers to operate in residential areas are they going to likewise forbid these home businesses? And more so, are they going to enforce the current ordinances that are currently being ignored? We at the Corrector are reserving comment until further research and facts are completed.
The next committee meeting where this will be discussed is on March 16th at 5:15 pm in the City Hall. The council members that are assigned to this committee are Chairman Janet Tretheway, Andrew Brekke, Pam Hillary and Woody Woodwick.