Man, 71, pleads guilty to growing too much medical marijuana
By Cole Waterman
BAY CITY, MI — An elderly Bay County man charged with a felony for allegedly growing too much medical marijuana has pleaded guilty as charged.
James E. Smith, 71, on Thursday, July 5, appeared before Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran and pleaded guilty to 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.
Smith faced no other charges.
In exchange for his plea, the prosecution is agreeing to Smith receiving a delayed sentence. The court also is allowing Smith to use medical marijuana so long as his card remains valid while he is free on bond.
Smith’s legal woes began on Oct. 30, when the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (or BAYANET) executed a search warrant on his home at 4226 S. Carter Road in Williams Township. Divided among two grow rooms and a shed, police 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.
An individual patient can also legally grow 12 plants without need of a caregiver.
Smith is to appear for sentencing by Judge Sheeran at 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27.