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One Maine City Wants To Ban Caregivers From Growing Weed At Home

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter

The city council of Saco, Maine, is mulling a ban on caregivers being able to grow medical marijuana in their homes.

Councilors want new zoning ordinances that would disallow in-home marijuana growth for new caregivers who are authorized to grow it. Council members would rather growing operations take place in the city’s industrial district, according to Portland Press Herald Monday.

“A lot of these caregivers may have a lot of money on hand. I’d rather it be in a locked facility than someone’s dresser drawer,” Saco City Administrator Kevin Sutherland told the Portland Press Herald. “We don’t have enough police officers to patrol every house that might be participating in this.”

New zoning laws wouldn’t hurt caregivers already growing in Saco, but already some in the caregiving industry are coming out against the proposal. Caregivers argue that even though medical marijuana is legal in Maine, they have a tough time depositing that money into a bank because federal law makes both jump through a series of hoops to make sure all activity is above-board.

Business Insider says that due to this, a lot of banks opt not to bother associating with marijuana businesses, and that just 220 of 7,600 banks and credit unions nationwide accept money from them.

Councilors also argue that because the industrial areas are more closely monitored by police, it would be safer to store money there.

“If a caregiver walks into a bank and tries open an account for their business, they will be denied,” Dave, who works at the Compassionate Caregivers of Maine, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Saco councilors were also concerned about the amount of electricity used for cultivation. Lots of energy is needed to power the grow lights for the plants.

“The amount of electricity will be the same wherever you grow,” said Dave, who asked his last name be withheld. He said the industrial district would have “better lines for heavy voltage draw.”

TreeHugger.com reported in 2011 that growing one joint’s worth of marijuana uses enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours. Growing four plants is the same as running 30 refrigerators for a month; nearly a quarter of the price of marijuana is from energy costs.

“It seems like an overreaction or knee-jerk reaction to fear of the unknown,” Catherine Lewis, board president of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said. “(Caregivers) have a garden within their home or outside. Basically, Saco is saying they can’t grow tomatoes in their backyard.”

Saco city councilors put a six-month moratorium on new medical marijuana growing facilities in June after they were flooded with requests to grow.

The city council will vote on the pot growing plan in August, then hold public hearings before taking a final vote in September.

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