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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sirens & Gavels

Police: Man had 166 pot plants too many

A hunter led investigators this week to a man they say "interprets the medical marijuana law a little differently than we do."

Benjamin A. Rice-Erso, 26, was released from Spokane County Jail on his own recognizance today after appearing in Superior Court on a felony charge of manufacturing a controlled substance.

Investigators raided his mother's home at 15100 block of South Valley Chapel Road Wednesday after a tipster said he saw marijuana plants on the 10-acre parcel while hunting with a GPS unit, according to a search warrant filed today.

A detective flew over the site in a helicopter, leading to a raid that seized 181 marijuana plants and 5 pounds of harvested bud. Detectives also seized $3,200 found in a gun safe, according to the search warrant.

Spokane County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Dave Reagan said Rice-Erso, who has a medical marijuana license, equipped two trucks with reservoirs so he could drive water to the outdoor grow site.

State law allows medical marijuana patients to keep 15 plants and 24 ounces of the harvested drug. Local police and prosecutors consider anyone distributing marijuana to more than one authorized patient to be violating the law, which allows for distribution to one person “at any one time.”

Past coverage:

Oct. 19: New federal orders have no effect on Spokane pot raids

Sept. 14: Protesters ask to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open

Sept. 10: Police arrest medical pot dispensary owners

Aug. 26: Medical marijuana seller busted during buying trip

June 28: Pot's legal ambiguity clouds law enforcement

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.