Growers seek out hot pot spots |

Growers seek out hot pot spots

There isn’t a place in Nevada County where somebody doesn’t grow dope.

Local police have discovered marijuana on people’s front porch, in their vegetable gardens, in their backyards, at their parents’ homes and even in their children’s room.

Last Saturday, California state park police arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of growing pot on the grounds of the Empire Mine State Historic Park – better known for its rose garden. Police seized five marijuana plants after searching Adam Werle’s residence on park property, said Ron Munson, park superintendent for the Sierra Gold sector of the California State Parks department.

Werle is a park maintenance worker who has been put on administrative leave since his arrest Saturday, Munson said. He was released the same day as his arrest from the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on $10,000 bail, according to jail documents.

“It’s a high-risk, high-gain trade,” said Capt. Ron Smith with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. “A pound of marijuana goes for $4,000. If you can get away with it, you can make a lot of money with very little effort.”

Smith recalled a search he conducted a few years ago in North San Juan where a man was growing dope and drying the plants on ropes strung above his baby’s crib.

“He went to jail for child endangerment,” Smith said.

On another occasion, officers arrested a Grass Valley caregiver who was growing pot in the vegetable garden of an elderly person, Smith said.

In yet another case, a 16-year-old boy was found with a rifle, protecting the marijuana garden of his parents in North San Juan, while his parents were vacationing in Hawaii, Smith added.

“It’s flabbergasting to see the amount of effort people will go through to grow marijuana in unique places,” said sheriff’s Lt. Frank Koehler. “We’ve found marijuana on steep inclines on (United States) Forest Service land, where you’d think a goat would have to plant it because of the steepness of the trail.”

Koehler has seen pot being grown in bathrooms, in attics, on rooftops, even on trees with the plants wired to the branches.

“The majority of gardens we are finding now are commercial gardens,” Smith said. The pot growers “are hiding behind Prop. 215.”

Proposition 215 allows seriously ill patients to possess and grow marijuana if they are recommended to do so by their doctors.

Such patients may “possess up to two pounds of dried marijuana per qualified patient,” according to the Nevada County Medical Marijuana Inter-agency protocol.

“A qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature female plants or, in the alternative, up to 75 square feet of total garden canopy, measured by the combined vegetative growth area, so long as the grow is consistent with the patient’s recommendation,” the sheriff’s office mandates.

“A lot of people prefer to get high on marijuana as opposed to alcohol or harder drugs,” Smith said. “So they grow it to get high or just to sell it.”

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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