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Cops Net 61 Pot Plants in Mondex Grow House; Sheriff Doubts Owner’s “Personal Use” Claim

| February 21, 2014

Dwayne Reed showed police his pot plants, saying they were for his personal use. (FCSO)

Dwayne Reed showed police his pot plants, saying they were for his personal use. (FCSO)

Attention pot enthusiasts: a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the sale of medical marijuana is on the November ballot. But pot growing, pot sales and pot consumption is still illegal in Florida, which continues to enforce some of the nation’s most prohibitive pot laws. Guessing or hoping for the legalization of marijuana in the future is no defense.

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Dwayne Reed, a 49-year-old resident of 5637 Nutwood Avenue in Bunnell–an isolated property surrounded by woods on its east and west, but facing a neighbor to the north, in Daytona North, also known as the Mondex–was fingered to police by an anonymous source as having marijuana plants.

On Wednesday, a joint task force of Flagler County Sheriff’s investigators and members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to the anonymous tip and found 67 marijuana plants on Reed’s property and inside his metal trailer, a 1,000-square-foot structure.

Reed was not arrested. A charging affidavit was completed and forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, leaving it up to prosecutors to decide how to proceed on the case. That’s in contrast with several previous grow-house discoveries by local police, in which case the person or persons involved in the grow operations were arrested every time or soon after, when located, at the time of the discovery.

According to the charging affidavit, members of the police task force walked through the open gate at Reed’s property at about 11:30 Wednesday morning. As the members of the task force made their way to the door of the house, along a gravel road, two detectives could see what they recognized as pot plants growing behind the house. (The area–lush, green, well served by water and sunshine–is ideal for pot growing.) “A strong smell of cannabis was also present and grew stronger upon reaching the front door,” the charging affidavit states.

One of the investigator knocked on the front door “and was greeted by a male,” Reed himself, and a woman, who was later found not to be involved in the grow operation. The investigator informed Reed of the complaint, and that investigators could see and smell the stuff as they were walking up to the house. The detective asked Reed for consent to search the property.

The medical marijuana ballot proposal is changing the tenor of recent pot busts.

“Reed asked what would happen if he denied consent,” the affidavit relates. The investigator answered “that based on the observations made by law enforcement, the residence and property would be secured and detectives would pursue further action to investigate the matter.” The visible presence of pot plants gave police more than enough probable cause to move forward without consent, though the detective “assured Reed that he has the right to deny or withdraw consent at any time.”

Reed was cooperative throughout and signed a search-consent form, then directed investigators to the back of the property, where 18 plants were growing in pots. Reed then brought the detectives inside the house, where two grow rooms were dedicated to pot-growing. The rooms were equipped with high-voltage grow lights, ballasts and fans, much like grow houses previously uncovered by the Flagler Sheriff’s Office in Palm Coast in a spate of such discoveries over the past two years. But there hadn’t been a seizure since last October.

Investigators found 29 pot plants in one bedroom, and 14 plants in another, for a total of 61 plants. Reed bought the property in 2008 for $80,000, according to property appraiser records. The property currently has a taxable value of just $3,700, once a $25,000 exemption is calculated.

Loose pot was also found in the trailer and collected, as were glass bongs, pipes and smoking devices. The affidavit charges Reed with manufacturing pot, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Reed explained to investigators that he grows the plants for personal use, because he is ailing from an injury, and does not sell it. Sheriff Manfre, who has not yet taken a position regarding medical marijuana but has not been unsympathetic regarding people with serious illnesses and the use of medical marijuana, does not quite believe him. “It is hard to believe any one person could conceivably try to claim that growing 61 marijuana plants was purely for personal use,” Manfre said in a Sheriff’s release. “We’ll have to wait and see how the case unfolds once it’s in the courts.”

Just five days earlier, on Feb. 14, Reed was charged with marijuana possession of less than 20 grams, a first-degree misdemeanor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, also a first-degree misdemeanor. He was scheduled for an appearance before County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens on March 25 on those charges. He was never actually arrested on that charge, either, being a misdemeanor. As of Friday evening, Reed remained free.

Reed's backporch pot. (FCSO)

Reed’s backporch pot. (FCSO)

Inside the house. (FCSO)

Inside the house. (FCSO)

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18 Responses for “Cops Net 61 Pot Plants in Mondex Grow House; Sheriff Doubts Owner’s “Personal Use” Claim”

  1. Florida Native. says:

    Where’s Cheech and Chong when you need them?

  2. confidential says:

    Mr. Reed is an accomplished gardener…

  3. A.S.F. says:

    Sheriff Manfre, whatever his views on this particular issue, should be treating all individuals in like situations equally. For now, marijuana is illegal–And, I hope when the issue comes up for legalization or decriminalization or both, it has been properly vested and carefully considered. Like any drug, marijuana has both positive and harmful potential. I still don’t know if “medical marijuana” will be the same in its formulation as what was growing in this man’s house. Once marijuana is legalized/decriminalized, my bet is that drug dealers will come up with a new form of the drug to sell on the street and harm potential abusers.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “I still don’t know if “medical marijuana” will be the same in its formulation as what was growing in this man’s house. Once marijuana is legalized/decriminalized, my bet is that drug dealers will come up with a new form of the drug to sell on the street and harm potential abusers.”

      You need to educate yourself a lot about marijuana and drug policy before you vote on the ballot initiative.

      “Medical marijuana” isn’t an actual legally defined substance or formulation. It’s a system whereby it becomes legal for users to possess marijuana for personal use if they have the prescription of a doctor saying they need it for one of a list of conditions that marijuana has been deemed to help medically. Under “medical marijuana” laws, users are free to use whatever version of marijuana they have access to or which helps them.

      If marijuana becomes legal or decriminalized there won’t be a market for drug dealers to sell it. Alcohol – a very similar substance in effect – is legal. Do you ever read in the news about illegal stills being busted because “dealers” were trying to cook up more potent alcohol than what is available legally? No. Removing the criminal element and all of its dangers from the industry and from society is part of the entire point of legalization policy!

      And in case anyone is wondering, to borrow a phrase – no, I have never inhaled.

      • A.S.F. says:

        @Nancy N says–I actually consider myself to be pretty “educated” about drug and alcohol issues since I worked in the field for many years. It has been my experience that drug dealers are very adept at exploiting human weakness for profit. If one road of supply and demand is cut off for them, they very quickly develop another profitable path. If you are correct and the proposed legislation makes it legal “for users to possess marijuana for personal use with a doctor’s prescription…users are free to use whatever version of marijuana they have access to or which helps them”, I find that very worrisome. We already have a great problem with “pill mills”–not all doctors, unfortunately, are above being drug dealers (or drug users) themselves. Also, In all my years of experience, in hospitals, ERs and even the courts, I have witnessed the sad sight of marijuana laced with all sorts of stuff, like angel dust for instance. I have seen people under the influence of that particular combo tear through straps and restraints and attack medical professionals in the ER. In other countries, where marijuana is available for use, there are still forms of regulation to maintain public health and safety. So, I hope we intend to be at least as smart. Laws change but human nature does not. There will always be addicts and people/industries willing to make a profit off of their disease.

        wonder how many doctors (who are not Addiciton Specialists) are really educated, at this point, about Marijuana: it’s safe and proper applications and potential contradications? If we are going to legalize the drug for medical use, I hope we are fully prepared to do it a way that makes sense. It’s hard to put the Genie back in the bottle, once out.

      • hey hey says:

        Actually FCSO took down a still just a few years ago. So yes, Shine is still traded and revered. It’s also produced from 40 proof up to limit of the still (sometimes 90% ethanol.)

        So people want to get a doctor to sign off on having a little pot. Doctors used to sign on people having some synthetic opiates (hydrocodone), they’ll sign off on any thing for anyone right? If I stub my toe, can I have medical marijuana to ease my pain?

  4. rickg says:

    I’m so glad that the FCSO is on the ball and keeping us safe from someone who grows a plant.

  5. Obadiah Syntegrity JR. says:

    61 plants?! Oh man! No way in heck is that “personal use” as a local farmer for the majority of the city’s produce I know a little something about the lifespan of plants. There is no way he could smoke all that or use it for hemp products at the rate of how fast it’s dying. Not even Snoopy Dog the hip hopper could use all that! LOL!

    I have quite a lot of weed growing at my home, but that’s just because my lawn matience hasn’t been up to par as of late. (I don’t bring work home)

    This guy is a run of the mill Nancy Botwin!

    And if the documentary Reefer Madness taught me anything, this IS A DANGEROUS DRUG!

  6. Matoes says:

    I grow tomatoes for personal use and I only need 6 plants !

  7. w.ryan says:

    The father of country grew cannabis as one of his primary crops. Bill and George also partook. Funny how death by cancer thru tobacco and death due to alcoholism doesn’t create this “damn” response. Too many jailed because of the hype. Funny though that the law is different for this one. I’d rather have cannabis legal than the aforementioned. Publix, and Winn Dixie would be happy at munch time! Chiching!

  8. rickg says:

    @OSJr… If you took Reefer Madness seriously you may need to change what you read and watch.

  9. confidential says:

    Well…at least the 61 plants were “Made in the USA” and not imported!
    I guess some individuals out of a job will do anything for $$. Less dangerous than robbing a bank.
    I hope I don’t get in trouble growing papayas because at 2 feet high and until they bloom, the leaves look like that weed.

  10. theDude says:

    you cant just assume he sells something because he has a lot of it. what if he uses it for other purposes, like making rope or bricks for construction? what if he smokes it inefficient ways, like a bon fire? maybe he makes brownies and hash oil, which require lots of pot to make a little bit of end product. he could use it for art projects or material science experiments… its a very useful fibrous plant.

    go easy on the old man, its obvious he isn’t some gang member shooting up neighborhoods over drug deals, hes just a hill billy farmer with a green thumb and a personal stash that got out of hand.

    within a year, this will be legal and we can look back on this moment as a dark time in our countries history, similar to the oppression of women, slavery, and sweat shops that our country was built on.

    i see no victim here besides the old man being harassed about his pet plants not being the right species. i hope for a future where no species is declared unfit to exist, where humans can enjoy themselves in the privacy of their own home, without the fear of being tortured and imprisoned over the personal use or sale of a plant.

  11. Mario says:

    Nice plants. May I have one please? Just one. OK, maybe two.

  12. anonymous says:

    He is an accomplished grower and would be an asset to future marijuana dispensaries in Flagler county.

  13. MaryJo says:

    lol.. “Old man”. He’s 49 for god sakes, lol. You make it sound like he’s in his 80’s or something hobbling around on the farm. :roflmao:

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