By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — A Lake Stevens man who has operated a medical marijuana cooperative in Shoreline is in legal trouble in Snohomish County after detectives here found about 400 marijuana plants in a Marysville building.
Prosecutors this week charged Christopher Healy with manufacturing a controlled substance, a felony. Healy, 45, is scheduled to answer to the charge later this month in Snohomish County Superior Court.
The Lake Stevens man was arrested in March after Marysville police received a tip about a possible marijuana growing operation in a storage building behind an espresso stand on State Avenue.
Police reported smelling a strong odor of marijuana coming from the building and located a hidden fan that they suspected was being used to vent the growing plants. Officers obtained a search warrant and raided the building.
Detectives found marijuana growing in two rooms. The first room contained about 200 mature marijuana plants. A second room housed about 240 starter plants, according to court documents. Police noted that the plants were set up in a sophisticated water system.
Investigators say they saw Healy’s truck parked outside the building before they raided the building. Witnesses told investigators that the same man, driving a white pickup, had stopped by the building about twice a day since November.
Healy was arrested and reportedly spoke with Marysville investigators. He told police that he suspected they wanted to talk to him about his “wellness garden.” Healy allegedly said he’d been trying to work something out with city officials so he could set up a cooperative marijuana garden.
Marysville officials, however, have banned collective gardens in the city. The council again last month extended a moratorium on cooperatives, explaining that they need more time to develop regulations to govern the collective gardens.
Gov. Chris Gregoire last year vetoed large sections of a bill that would have expanded the state’s medical marijuana law, first passed in 1998. A portion that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries was vetoed while part of the bill that allows for collective gardens was left in.
Under the new law, up to 10 qualifying patients can grow 45 plants at a collective garden. The law allows cities to license, zone and impose health and safety requirements on collective gardens within their jurisdiction.
Several cities in Snohomish County have opted to temporarily ban collective gardens.
Healy’s wife spoke last year at a Marysville City Council meeting while officials were discussing the moratorium.
She said that patients were being forced to buy marijuana on the streets while city officials figured out regulations.
Patients want safe, accessible places to buy medical marijuana, she said.
State business records show that Healy and his wife run a collective garden in Shoreline. A Web site for the group said the cooperative has been in operation since 2009. Shoreline city officials adopted regulations and license requirements in January.
Healy told Marysville police that he operates stores that sell growing equipment, including fans and lighting.
He said he has a prescription for marijuana. Police didn’t locate any paperwork at the building. Healy reportedly told officers that his lawyer advised him not the post the paperwork in order to avoid legal trouble.
The Lake Stevens man also reportedly told police that he knew he was only allowed to have 45 plants.
He told detectives the starter plants shouldn’t be counted in the total. The cops told Healy he was wrong and even if they didn’t count the immature plants, he was still over the limit.
Healy reportedly told police that he didn’t have a job and used his savings to purchase the equipment. He also reportedly told police that this was his first attempt to grow marijuana, court papers said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.