ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - A number of people in Michigan are able to obtain medical marijuana legally, through a state issued medical marijuana card. Because of confidentiality issues, local law enforcement doesn't have access to a state database with all cardholders' names.
"Really, we don't do much. It's not regulated locally. There's no way for us to actually know by our own investigations whether somebody is growing marijuana," explains Chief of Ishpeming City Police Steven Snowaert.
"The only information that we have as far as caregivers and people who have cards is the information that we cultivate on our own in the process of investigation or say a traffic stop or things of that nature," adds Detective Captain Mike Kohler of Marquette City Police.
Both entities wish they had some sort of access to a database, but they do have limited ability to determine if a medical marijuana card is legitimate.
"There's a card number, and so through that card number we can verify if that card is in fact valid," explains Detective Captain Kohler.
As a cardholder, Michiganders can grow up to 12 plants, and if you become a caregiver, you can provide up to five other people with medical marijuana as well, for a total of 72 plants in one home.
Ishpeming City Police says they're aware of about 10 caregivers in their area. One Ishpeming caregiver's house caught fire Wednesday. Growing medical marijuana involves a lot of electricity for heat lamps, and while Ishpeming Fire concluded it was an electrical issue that caused the fire, a direct correlation can't be concluded.
"The house was being used to grow marijuana, legally. The owner was a caregiver, and to my knowledge he had 48 marijuana plants in there and he was a caregiver of four people, so he was well within the limits of his growing," says Chief Snowaert.
This caregiver came forward prior to the fire, and let Ishpeming law enforcement know that he was a grower.
"I do believe there should be some more regulations on it because obviously in situations where people are growing it, and probably growing it in their basement, there are a lot of older homes here in Ishpeming, you wonder whether the wiring is satisfactory to be growing the marijuana because that could be susceptible to fire," Chief Snowaert says.