Growing problem: Pot lights give ham radio operators a buzz

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AUGUSTA, Maine — Ham radio operators say their frequencies are increasingly getting a harsh buzz from a component of the indoor lamps used to grow pot.

The American Radio Relay League has been filing complaints with the Federal Communications Commission over the past several years and wants federal regulators to halt the marketing and sale of illegal grow light ballasts.

Ballasts regulate electrical currents in lights and can disrupt radio frequencies. But ham radio operators say decriminalization of marijuana in states like Colorado has led to more large high-power grow lights in residential areas.

In Maine, retired Coast Guard officer Roger Johnson claims his amateur radio has twice been disrupted by nearby marijuana growers. He wants the state to step in, but other ham radio operators say the federal government should do its job.