By TOM LAVENTURE
“This gets us moving in the right direction together,” said Terry Kryshak, council member and mayor pro temp. “We don’t have to keep pointing fingers.”
Charly Loper, city manager, said the meeting was a good way for people with varying opinions and experiences with marijuana to talk it out and find a common ground. The Michigan laws are in place and the meeting was solely to acknowledge the odor issue.
“Take a moment to listen to each other,” Loper said. “This is to build a conversion to figure out how to address the issue.”
Kryshak said that as a former Colorado resident, where medical and recreation marijuana is also legal, he was familiar with the odor issue when Bessemer residents started to complain about odor from homes where residents were growing for themselves or medical marijuana for others.
“The part that I struggle with is that when it was illegal there was no odor because growers were using filters,” Kryshak said. “When it went legal the filters were shelved and odor was there. I hope to get the filters back.”
Others spoke to incentives to encourage home growers to use best practices. The ideas ranged from vouchers to offset costs for filtration or other products that reduce odor.
The city had had a trial use of a technology that measures and quantifies odor strength and thought to have the blight manager use the device to enforce odor under the nuisance ordinance. The council approved the purchase of the device in 2017 but it had not been purchased.
The group almost universally condemned the device as loose science that would be difficult to enforce in court. Others said that using a hard approach on people not technically breaking the law would not succeed.
Adam Zak, mayor of Bessemer, said he voted against the device. He said it would require a council action to change the previous decision to purchase.
Autumn Hill, of Bessemer, asked the council to take up the question at the next regular meeting.
Most present agreed that the best approach was to have the growers police themselves.
Louis Miskovich, a council member, said there is a Facebook page exclusively for growers to communicate and share ideas. The “Coalition for Responsible Growers” page is such a platform to brainstorm ideas to work with growers, he said.
Other residents were in favor of having growers put together a constructive message on responsible operations and approaching the growers at their homes. This is more affective than letters from the city or visits from enforcement, they said.
“Peer pressure is best,” said Tim Foster, of Bessemer. “That is the mindset of the grower.”
The ideas for a coalition, brochures on the topic, social media, all went forward.
“It’s outside of the box but I don’t see how it could hurt,” Zak said.
Other participants were concerned about growing houses run by non-residents. These are likely people from other states where marijuana is illegal, growing it here to reduce the risk and then transporting it back.
Law enforcement present noted that is a criminal operation and a different issue.
Bessemer has optioned out of the commercial marijuana but the issue of allowing a retail dispensary came up repeatedly as a realistic way of reducing the amount of homegrown marijuana. The retailers gets quality, inspected products from commercial growers at a cost than home growers could not hope to compete with, they said.
Loper said the next step will be to get people together to start discussing the information and form a committee to structure the message