WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ-TV) — Pot problems are brewing in West Bloomfield, according to frustrated neighbors who claim the smell and traffic associated with illegal grow houses in their neighborhoods are getting worse.
The issue was brought up during a Jan. 19 township board meeting, where Township Supervisor Steve Kaplan suggested the board consider amending township ordinance(s) to address the problem; at the center of it, Kaplan said, are medical marijuana caregivers growing more pot than the state allows and illegally selling it from their homes.
“Since 2019 we have averaged perhaps one call every two weeks from a resident who is protesting over a neighbor who is selling marijuana and growing marijuana. The typical neighbor is upset because of the noise, the traffic, the horrendous odor," Kaplan told Action News.
Those complaints were voiced by at least two neighbors during the Jan. 19 meeting, who declined to speak with Action News for this story due to harassment and threats they've received since first speaking out.
Kaplan said this problem is growing and feels the board has a responsibility to address it.
“Now we’re seeing perhaps one call per week," he said. “You have some caregivers having five patients who are legitimately growing up to 72 marijuana plants. But many of them are growing in excess of 72 marijuana plants.”
“Many of these homes nobody is living there," Kaplan added.
Township Trustee Jim Manna agrees that the illegal growing or selling of marijuana in West Bloomfield's neighborhoods should be addressed, but he supports the cannabis industry as a whole and feels new rules at the township level might not be the best approach.
“With legislation we’ve just got to be careful because my biggest worry is that we’re opening ourselves up to lawsuits," Manna said.
He also said there are already mechanisms in place for people to report issues.
"We have a police department, we have a code enforcement department so if there’s any issues we have parameters set up for that.”
If the Township were to amend an ordinance or make any changes to its zoning map, something Kaplan said could also be a possibility, it could be a two month process; it would also require a majority vote by the board of trustees.
At this point, Kaplan said the issue has been referred to the township attorney and will be discussed again at the next meeting on Feb. 8.
“Our neighborhoods should be isolated from it. Let’s move it into an area where it won’t harm the neighborhoods," Kaplan said.