SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — “They are truly a public nuisance,” said Sacramento Fire Deputy Chief Niko King when speaking about illegal cannabis home grows.
There have been 11 fires in the last year, and half of those are due to illegal marijuana home grows.
“They tap into the electrical systems,” said King, “they tap into the ventilation systems. There is chemicals that aren’t usually found in a home.”
Homes are transformed, creating a hazard for first responders and people in the neighborhoods.
“It’s becoming to be a full-time job for a couple of firefighters,” said King.
According to a Sacramento city report, there are nearly 1,000 illegal home grows operating right now.
“We are going to be taking steps to aggressively root out these illegal cultivators from our neighborhoods,” said Joe Devlin, the city’s Cannabis Chief.
Devlin says Sacramento is a prime location for criminal operations.
He says an affordable power grid, relatively cheap land costs and the city’s proximity to major interstates makes Sacramento an attractive spot to set up an illegal shop.
It’s an issue that has those in the cannabis industry fuming.
“They want to be good neighbors, and they recognize that these illegal cultivators are a problem,” said Devlin.
The solution, at least in the short term is to use a show of force to push out the illegal grows by calling in the SWAT team.
“A very loud and clear message to those operating illegally that we’re not going to take it here in Sacramento,” said Devlin.
The SWAT teams would only be for a few months while the city works to fill more than a dozen police and staff positions to combat the illegal grows.
“The use of our SWAT team should tell the residents of Sacramento as well as these illegal cultivators that they are not welcome,” explained Devlin.
One man speaking during public comments said the city is “not doing a good job enforcing the current laws and regulation.” He expressed concern about the police department’s ability to keep up with the illegal activity.
Council Member Angelique Ashby was also not impressed with the presentation.
“It falls short of what I was expecting for tonight,” said Ashby.
She continued by saying she was hoping for a more detailed plan for what would be taking place and when enforcement in the neighborhoods would take place.
According to city officials, the stepped-up enforcement will begin in the coming weeks.