Medical marijuana users find out how big their gardens need to grow

October 06, 2005

, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

Attention!
ASA strongly recommends you do not contact law enforcement about your medicine. The day after this story ran, seven medical marijuana patients had been arrested by Nevada County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force. If you have quesitons about law enforcement, see our Know Your Rights info, or call our legal team at 510-251-1856.

Confused about whether your medical marijuana garden is legal?

Just call the authorities.

Those who grow marijuana in Nevada County - with a doctor's recommendation - can contact the sheriff's office Narcotics Task Force to make sure their gardens aren't producing more than the county allows, Lt. Ron Smith said Friday.

"They can call us and we can let them know if they're within guidelines and get it straightened out," Smith said.

Growers can call the Narcotics Task Force at 478-7987.

Pot raids in Nevada County, such as a North San Juan bust last week, often are performed because growers are cultivating much more than is allowed by law.

In the arrest, Smith said, marijuana was drying throughout the house - including over a baby's bed.

Nevada County guidelines allow two pounds of trimmed marijuana buds for each doctor's recommendation.

As growers begin to harvest their plants, they can more closely figure how much the plants will yield.

Growers can cultivate up to 10 plants to meet those two pounds, but a single vigorous bush can produce more than four pounds of processed buds. Growers should destroy excess marijuana, authorities say.

Early contact with the Narcotics Task Force could help legitimate growers avoid confusion that could lead to a raid, Smith said.

In last week's North San Juan raid, deputies removed 23 marijuana plants from a 47-plant garden, Smith said.

David Fortner, 35, and Christine Rutherford, 29, were arrested on suspicion of illegal marijuana cultivation and child endangerment.

They were booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.Bail was set at $10,000 each, but Judge John H. Darlington ordered them both released on their own recognizance a few hours after their arrest, a jail official said.

Deputies found plants drying inside the house and people processing buds in a covered area outside, Smith said.

"They had six medical marijuana recommendations," Smith said. "The large amount of marijuana already drying, coupled with what was in the garden, was too much."

In addition, Smith said, the house appeared to have numerous building code violations and was unsafe for the couple's five children, including a 2-month-old baby, Smith said.

"(The house) was filthy. The floor was covered with soiled laundry. There was standing water in the tub with some kind of goo," Smith said. Deputies found marijuana hanging to dry over the baby's bed, and the smell of marijuana was overpowering, he said.

The children now are being cared for by their grandmother, Smith said.



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