Thursday, March 11, 2010

Faux medical marijuana doesn't pass the sheriff's sniff test

Posted on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Spokane County sheriff detectives put an end to a two-year marijuana-growing operation this morning, seizing 105 plants and arresting two men who were "hiding behind the medical marijuana law."

According to the sheriff's office, the grow operation was detected on March 1, when a recognizable scent came wafting from 1527 E. Rockwell Ave. Robert P. Thompson, 28, and Eric G. Franklin, 31, allegedly had forged documents showing a medical need for growing pot.

"Normally, drug detectives do follow up," says Sgt. Dave Reagan, a spokesman for the office. "It was pretty easy today because the signatures were forged. They weren't valid signatures, and they weren't even valid doctors."

It's becoming a common defense, Reagan says. A bust occurred last week and Reagan encountered something similar earlier this week.

"I stumbled onto a grow Monday, with three plants," he says. "Both the mother and son had documents that appeared to be old, but appeared to be valid." Reagan says authorities let them be.---

Though state law allows for the use of medical marijuana, it has not been clear in defining exactly what this means. The health department stated a patient should be allowed to keep a 60-day supply, and defined that — many say arbitrarily — as 15 plants. Additionally, there is no way for law enforcement officials to quickly tell who's authorized to use marijuana.

But Reagan says his office is getting better at it.

"If they have some documentation [and have less than 15 plants] we assume they're authorized," he says. "We're not going to tear down their grow. We're going to err on the side of believing what they're doing is lawful."

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