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Cutting power supply to illegal pot grows in El Paso County - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Cutting power supply to illegal pot grows in El Paso County

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EL PASO COUNTY -

The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is cracking down on illegal marijuana grows in El Paso County. 

Law enforcement is still able to remove plants over the legal limit, and as of Tuesday, can also cut the power supply. 

It's part of change to a building code. On Tuesday, the board voted 4-1 passing a resolution to amend an existing code.

The change will allow the county to deal with illegal grow operations more effectively and hopefully make it safer for everyone. 

"I went on a raid and went out to a couple of different houses, and I saw the problems this creates for our community." 

Chemicals going into groundwater supply and black mold growing-these are just some of the issues Mark Waller, president pro tempore of the El Paso Board of County Commissioners, says come from illegal pot operations in the county. 

"It is absolutely just a disaster waiting to happen." 

What could be the most dangerous issue of all is the power supply at these buildings. 

Commander Clif Northam of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office says it comes down to "the poor wiring, electrical hookups, transformers next to gas generators, that type of thing; those dangerous types of situations that cause a threat to not only the residents there at that home, but also the community nearby."

The solution: amending a building code to hopefully shut down illegal grows for good. 

Waller said, "Once the sheriff's department has probable cause to go out and look at one of these houses, and they shut it down as an illegal grow operation, they can have the power turned off." 

It means lights out for black market grows, staying out until the structure is up to code and the Regional Building Department signs off. 

Northam said, "It gives us a little bit more help. It gives us a little bit of relief." 

What's more is that deputies won't be heading into the grows alone. The code allows electrical experts to tag along to determine what's safe. 

Waller said, "I think that's absolutely huge for public safety moving forward, not only for the people that live in those houses and have to deal with those buildings, but also for our deputies."

Waller says according to law enforcement 95 percent of the marijuana grown in Colorado is shipped out of state to be sold on the black market. 

Separate from illegal pot grows is the increase to housing costs caused by amendments made to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Code 2017. 

Waller says the cost increase mostly relates to new construction of homes. He says there is an additional $3,000-$5,000 in upfront costs for code changes to things like heating and electricity. 
 

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