Man, 71, faces felony of growing too much medical marijuana

Cannabis / Marijuana News

A 71-year-old Bay County man is facing a felony for allegedly growing too much medical marijuana.

The Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (or BAYANET) on Oct. 30 executed a search warrant on the home of James E. Smith at 4226 S. Carter Road in Williams Township. Divided among two grow rooms and a shed, they found and seized 30 plants, 17 clones, three electric ballasts, and two cellphones, court records show.

The investigation began when a 51-year-old woman called 911, claiming she was moving out of Smith’s house and that he had yelled at her and threatened to pull her hair if she didn’t move out more promptly.

On meeting with police, the woman told them she had moved in with Smith on Aug. 3, after posting a Craigslist ad looking for a place to live and grow medical marijuana. She said none of the plants on the property were hers, but that she had an arrangement with Smith to receive 25 percent of the plants located outside the house, court records show.

Police also interviewed Smith, who said his female roommate had initially contacted him saying she would help him grow medical marijuana, so long as he grew 12 plants for her. He added that she sold cloned plants through a Facebook page and that while all 22 plants seized in one room in his house were his, those growing outside were hers.

 Smith added he bought his clones from dispensaries, court records show. He also said he receives money for being a disabled veteran.Both Smith and the woman had valid medical marijuana cards, though they were not listed as caregivers.According to the state’s Medical Marihuana Act, patients can have 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. Caregivers can grow up to 12 plants producing 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana for each of their five patients and themselves. If a caregiver is a patient and has five registered patients, he or she can grow 72 plants.

Authorities issued a warrant for Smith on Feb. 7. The following week, he was arraigned on one count of delivering or manufacturing 5 to 45 kilograms of or 20 to 200 marijuana plants or a synthetic equivalent. The charge is punishable by up to seven years in prison and $500,000 fine.

Court records indicate prosecutors have made the offer that if Smith pleads guilty or contest as charged, they’ll recommend he receive a delayed sentence. If he accepts the offer and receives the delay, he’ll effectively be on probation. Then, if he’s successful on probation, he’ll be allowed to withdraw his plea and supplant it with a reduced charge.The 51-year-old woman is not facing any charges related to the incident.

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