Grower Steve Jenkins feeds marijuana plants at BotanaCare in Northglenn on Dec. 31, 2013. (Denver Post file)

Boulder County to weigh new restrictions for home-grown weed

People cultivating or processing marijuana in their unincorporated Boulder County homes would have to comply with new restrictions and conditions up for county Planning Commission review on Wednesday.

One of those proposed restrictions would limit such indoor marijuana growing, or the production of marijuana-infused products, to single-family residential dwelling units, according to Bryan Harding, a senior planner in Boulder County’s Land Use Department.

Marijuana couldn’t be grown, and pot-infused products couldn’t be made, inside duplex, condominium or apartment units, Harding said. Nor could marijuana processed or cultivated in homes be “for the purpose of sale or profit,” the proposed regulations specify.

In general, the indoor growing or processing would only be allowed when it’s “by and for the individuals living on the parcel.”

Another of the proposed Boulder County Land Use Code changes would specify that no more than a total of six plants be growing indoors on that parcel of single-family residential property.

The county’s code now allows people to grow marijuana for their own recreational or medical use — or by caregivers of state-registered medical-marijuana patients — as long as the activity occupies no more than 300 square feet of area within the home.

The Land Use Department staff said that 300 square-foot allowance now could make it possible for a resident to grow more than 100 plants indoors, exceeding what’s permitted by Colorado marijuana laws.

The proposed code changes would also try to address some of the complaints Boulder County has received about the residential cultivation and processing of marijuana, Harding said — complaints raising concerns about odors as well as possible fires, explosions and potential exposure to hazardous materials.

The proposed code would also specify that residential marijuana processing and cultivation “must not result in noise or vibration, light, odor, dust, smoke, particulate or other air pollution noticeable at or beyond the property line.”

Boulder County’s Land Use Code applies only to unincorporated areas. Cities and towns have their own municipal codes about whether or where marijuana can be grown or processed, and how it must be done if it is allowed.

Harding reported that the county staff got 153 written comments about the proposed changes to the inside-the-homes growing and processing provisions, with 136 generally supporting the revisions, 11 opposing them, three indicating they had “no conflict” with the proposals and three posing questions or comments but not taking stands.

Supporters’ letters included concerns about potential fires, Harding said, with their authors noting that several house and electrical fires in wildfire-prone areas of the county have been attributed to residential marijuana grows’ overloaded electrical systems.

Other code-change supporters wrote of their fears for the safety of neighbors who might be affected by a fire or explosion during marijuana-concentrate extractions, and several warned about potential crimes related to residential growing operations.

Harding said code-change opponents’ objections included contentions that a six-plant-per-parcel limit was too restrictive and wouldn’t provide enough usable marijuana for medical patients to grow for their own purposes.

One critic “questioned the enforceability of marijuana regulations when other residential uses and activities also have an impact on neighbors, such as loud noises from lawn mowers or barbecue smoke that drifts across property lines,” Harding said.

If you go: Boulder County hearing on marijuana regulations

What: Boulder County’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed revisions to Land Use Code regulations about growing or processing marijuana in homes in unincorporated areas of the county

When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Third-floor hearing room, Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder

Info: The Planning Commission will make recommendations about the Land Use Code provisions to the Board of County Commissioners, which is tentatively scheduled to hold its own hearing April 5. The code changes currently being proposed by the Land Use Department staff are available online.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, or

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