Pot prescriptions come under scrutiny
Senior Staff Writer
The arrest of two young men Wednesday in connection with five marijuana patches points to a growing problem of people abusing legal pot prescriptions, according to Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal.
Arrested were Nicholas Sahagian and Blake Wasechek, both 24 and from Penn Valley, on suspicion of felony marijuana cultivation, according to Lt. Frank Koehler. Both suspects were free Thursday, according to a spokesman at the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.
Officers seized a 335 marijuana plants and $7,528 in cash, but no weapons, Koehler said. Numerous marijuana prescriptions from doctors were posted at the five patches.
The investigation is continuing, and officers are combing through the prescriptions to discern the legalities of the situation, Koehler said. Some of the prescriptions were copied and allegedly used at the other sites, he said.
Although Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell has set a limit of six plants per prescription, people can grow more if they have legitimate documentation for other patients and can show those people are personally involved in the grow, Koehler said.
Growing for others, “Is a gray area the courts are just starting to address,” Koehler said. Whenever it appears a farm is blatantly over the documented amount, however, the plants are confiscated and an investigation ensues, he said.
That’s what happened when investigators from the Nevada County Narcotics Task Force and Major Crimes Unit raided three of the pot patches in the Wolf Mountain area east of Alta Sierra, Koehler said.
“They had outdoor greenhouses and plants in the open,” Koehler said. “It looked like they were growing in the hot houses and then moving them outdoors.”
Other evidence at the scene on the 16000 block of Giants Causeway led investigators to residences in Rough and Ready and Penn Valley, Koehler said.
More marijuana growing operations were found at those sites, including an indoor grow at the Rough and Ready site on the 16000 block of Rocker Road, Koehler said. The two suspects were discovered at the Penn Valley farm on the 10900 block of Terrace Oaks Lane and were arrested without incident.
“These guys were taking copies of medical marijuana prescriptions and posting them to show a cooperative grow to avoid possible prosecution, but this was a commercial operation,” Royal said.
It’s a ploy the Sheriff’s Department is beginning to see more frequently, he said.
“If you lose one garden, then there are others, or they’re hoping we walk away” upon seeing the prescriptions posted, Royal said. “It’s a way to get around the medical marijuana laws and the protocol” set up by Newell.
“We’re building a database of these prescriptions so we can catch more of this,” Royal said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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