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Marijuana investigators seize plants growing on rural land

The fact that marijuana plants are found growing on someone's land does not necessarily mean that the landowner is guilty of a drug offense in California, or anywhere else. State marijuana investigators recently raided several parcels of land in El Dorado County on suspicion that a male suspect was growing pot on the parcels. Authorities allege that, although the land was titled in the name of the suspect's wife, they were controlled by the suspect.

Agents report that they seized about 100 plants on one of the lots and a smaller number on another lot. They found no plants on a third lot. Police reported that one neighbor reportedly saw the suspect during a prior harvest of plants.

However, that kind of witness testimony could be highly suspect. For one thing, identity was probably determined from a relatively long distance, and it may be that the witness' current identification was swayed by the tenor and direction of the questions posed by the authorities. Furthermore, it appears that the neighbor did not report anything suspicious in the past.

A defense to these marijuana charges appears, at least from initial reports, to present some promise for success. The prosecution must prove the knowing intent to cultivate the plants and harvest them illegally and for illegal purposes. However, the suspect has reportedly told reporters in past interviews that he had indeed grown some plants, but that this was done legally, in accordance with the California laws on medical marijuana.

One potential problem in the man's defense, however, is that a warrant for his arrest has also issued in another state on similar marijuana growing charges. In that case, a large amount of plants were allegedly found adjoining an old motel property that the suspect purchased last year. It may be that there is no medical marijuana defense available in that jurisdiction. It's not clear at this time whether California authorities have actually attempted to arrest anyone as a result of the raids.

Source: news10.net, "Drug-related arrest warrant issued for Sacramento slumlord", George Warren, Sept. 5, 2014

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