Will “Grow Houses” Lower the Value of the Neighborhood?

The housing crisis has been tough on a lot of people but, as always, there are people who seem to capitalize in any situation. And isn't that what America is founded on? Striving for success, even in adversity?

Now there's more controversy regarding California state's legalization of marijuana. Since the housing crisis, the high inventory of short sale and foreclosed homes has allowed more people to buy homes they never could have afforded before. And some of the residents are up in arms.

No, it's not a certain racial or religious group moving into suburban neighborhoods that have gotten the residents riled; it's marijuana growers. These "grow homes" apparently typically go unnoticed, even by next-door-neighbors, even for years. In fact, neighbors have remarked that the grow-house residents just "blended right in", and were "quiet types".

So, how do the neighbors even find out about these residents that they then feel are so unsuitable for their neighborhood? It's clearly not parties or loud music. It's not the police raids to bust the growers and seize their product. In fact, since California has permitted the limited cultivation of marijuana for medical use since 1996, local police forces have stopped combing the suburbs for grow houses. And now it's fires that seem to root out the grow houses, as the electrical wiring for the lamps required to grow the marijuana can be unsafely installed.

It seems to be that the fires are the only thing stopping the grow houses-local forces have shrunk during the crisis and lack the resources needed to police them, and the laws are more tolerant of marijuana cultivation in general.

But why are these grow houses so upsetting for people? The growers aren't out selling marijuana on the street. They're not behaving badly or disturbing the peace. A Northern California man and a neighbor of a grow house was quoted in the New York Times as saying: "They left early for work and came back late in the afternoon. They mowed their lawn, took out their trash and got groceries. There was never any extra foot traffic."

Who else wants nice neighbors like that? It seems strange that these kind of quiet neighbors can be causing the value of houses to reduce in suburban neighborhoods. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the authorities seized 188,297 plants at 791 indoor grow houses in 2010, compared with 107,047 plants at 572 locations in 2005. That's less than a 20 percent increase in five years-it certainly doesn't seem like an epidemic.

What do you think about these grow houses? Would you allow one in your neighborhood? What do you think about California's medical marijuana laws? Do you know someone whose illness has been helped by medical marijuana? Or do you feel that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin or cocaine?

Please let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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