Felony charges filed over Lynnwood marijuana operation

LYNNWOOD — Police say they uncovered an illegal marijuana growing operation while investigating a code violation at a Lynnwood house.

Snohomish County prosecutors have filed felony drug charges against two people who live in the home. Court documents say police found more than 400 plants in different stages of growth in two shipping containers outside the house. They also discovered nearly five pounds of processed marijuana and pounds of “shake,” a term used to describe the loose leaves, stems and clippings from the plants.

Both defendants told police they have medical marijuana cards. One man explained that he had special permission to have so many plants because he was a chemistry major and is researching medical marijuana uses, prosecutors wrote in court papers.

He said he works out of a home lab and also claimed to have cured four people of cancer.

The man served time in the late 1990s in Texas for cocaine trafficking, according to court documents.

Washington voters approved recreational marijuana in 2012 and sanctioned stores opened up last year. Licenses are required to grow and sell recreational marijuana. The rules around growing and obtaining medical marijuana remain murkier.

“Law enforcement wants to follow the will of the people but when someone is breaking the law and affecting a community we are still compelled to investigate,” Lynnwood police Cmdr. Jim Nelson said.

The growing operation came to the attention of Lynnwood police Sgt. T.J. Brooks in July. Neighbors complained about the strong smell of marijuana coming from the property, located across the street from the elementary school. Brooks leads the department’s community health and safety program aimed at addressing quality of life issues in neighborhoods. He had been working with the neighborhood on a number of issues.

Brooks also detected a strong odor of marijuana and noticed what appeared to be illegal power lines running to the storage containers. He returned with the code enforcement officers and the city’s electrical inspector and contacted the people living there.

One of the defendants said he had a medical marijuana card that he could show the officer the next day. He claimed to have about 60 plants, 10 of which were mature.

The sergeant returned but the man wasn’t home. Detectives with the South County Narcotics Task Force went to the house a few days later. They noted that the odor of growing marijuana was strong enough to smell at the school across the street.

Detectives obtained a judge’s permission to search the house and containers. They found hundreds of plants.

One of the defendants said there were three people with medical authorization growing plants in the container. The task force detectives allowed him to pick out 45 plants — 15 for each authorized person. Detectives uprooted about 395 plants.

The other defendant told police he had marijuana that already had been processed but no plants. Detectives found nearly five pounds of processed marijuana in his room. They allowed him to keep 24 ounces and confiscated the rest.

Detectives also found 149 bottles of alcohol, many with the grocery store anti-theft devices still attached.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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