AG backs strict law on drug grow houses

11/19/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Grow houses are where home-grown marijuana operations set up. They’re usually owned by one person and rented by another to use as a "greenhouse" for growing pot.

Under current Florida law, growers can be charged as traffickers only if they grow more than 300 plants; but a new law that two Florida Republicans plan to introduce in the Legislature would lower the requirement to 25 plants.

The “Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act,” would also create a new penalty for those who live in or are the caretakers of marijuana grow houses.

It’s being strongly supported by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. McCollum says such plants are worth as much as $4,000 a piece when fully mature, and can be grown four times a year.

Bruce Mirken, with the Marijuana Policy Project based in San Francisco, calls the proposed bill another "exercise in futility."

Mirken says the only way to deal with such a popular drug like pot is to regulate its production, like the government does with beer and wine.

Earlier this month, an ordinance passed in Denver legalizing possession of up to an ounce of a marijuana. Mirkin says such efforts spread beyond the Rocky Mountains.

Critics of the war on drugs say the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act will only fill Florida’s jail cells with more people without making a dent on the demand for the drug.

But McCollum says this law will go after the big sellers, not individuals possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act is being sponsored in the House by Republican Nick Thompson of Fort Myers, and in the Senate by Republican Steve Oelrich of Gainsville.

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