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September 24, 2013
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Confiscated pot dumped in Tahoe National Forest

A large amount of marijuana recently confiscated by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office was dumped and left untended in Tahoe National Forest in proximity to a popular trail.

Sheriff Keith Royal said the pot was chipped with wood and other material making it unusable but vowed he would direct his officers to better dispose of marijuana refuse going forward.

“The chipper breaks it down to a smaller quantity and adds other vegetation into the mix, which basically destroys its use,” Royal said. “But for the future, in case any concerns are raised, the direction is to just bury it.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Royal said officers were en route to bury the pile.

Royal said historically the office has buried confiscated marijuana, but the recent inclusion of chipping the marijuana may have struck some law enforcement staff as sufficient.

“Now we realize we can’t do that, we have to bury it,” Royal said.

Arriving at the scene Tuesday morning, The Union did not find any other vegetation in the considerable pile of marijuana and instead found multiple buds that, if dried, appeared usable.

The site is located on Tahoe National Forest land and was in proximity to the Pioneer Trail, a popular multi-use trail heavily used by mountain bikers and hikers.

According to Rebecca Diaz, who works at the Harmony Ridge Market, the pile of pot was discovered by a pair of mountain bikers Monday evening.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “Every day, there are kids that use that trail, and the Nevada Union High School cross country team is actually out here jogging.”

After the mountain bikers reported the large pile to workers in the market, another costumer rode out to the site and investigated.

The person, who preferred to remain anonymous, contacted The Union newspaper Tuesday morning.

“There were buds in it,” the anonymous caller said. “All you had to do was let it dry out for about 12 hours.”

Diaz said the untended pot pile could not only present a danger to humans who could easily encounter it but animals as well.

“The last thing we need is some stoned bear out here trying to cross Highway 20,” she said.

Marijuana is toxic to animals, including pets, and in severe cases can lead to coma or death, according to the Veterinary Practice News.

Karl J. Nichols, public information officer with the San Francisco office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, said when federal papers are served, agreements are in place that stipulate the county will take the confiscated contraband and destroy it, usually by running it through a shredder and burying it.

“Obviously, we don’t want anybody to have access to a controlled substance,” Nichols said.

Nichols said there is no formal agreement in place, but burying is typical protocol.

According to Nichols, five warrants were executed by the DEA Monday with the Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies. The warrants remain sealed due to the ongoing investigation.

“When a suspect is arrested is typically when the warrant is unsealed,” Nichols said.

The Tahoe National Forest declined to comment on the specifics of the incident due to a lack of information.

“The Tahoe National Forest has a solid working relationship with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office,” said TNF Spokesperson Gwen Ernst-Ulrich. “We are in frequent contact, and we will follow up, but currently, we lack important details about this specific situation.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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The Union Updated Sep 26, 2013 12:00PM Published Sep 26, 2013 04:50PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.