Medical pot site raided; lawyer denies wrongdoing
Local, state and federal law enforcement raided a site near Paonia where medical marijuana is grown, and it may lead to criminal charges against a rancher and his family, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said Tuesday.
McKee said the Sheriff’s Department will refer possible charges to the 7th Judicial District Attorney, including cultivation and distribution of marijuana, against longtime Delta County resident Steve Wolcott, whose properties were the target of a search Sept. 7.
Wolcott’s attorney denied wrongdoing and said the family tried to operate within the law.
A search warrant, which was obtained for adjoining residences in the 38000 block of Stucker Mesa Road, was the culmination of an investigation active for several weeks, McKee said. Authorities received information that as many as 1,000 plants were being grown, he said.
They found approximately 100, most of them mature, McKee said.
McKee said the number of plants and the amount of dried marijuana on hand at Wolcott’s home exceeded amounts allowed under Colorado’s Amendment 20. The sheriff declined to give specific numbers of what was found at the home.
McKee said it appears Wolcott was growing medical marijuana for persons other than himself. Wolcott’s attorney said the properties engaged in “collective growing” for several licensed caregivers. Nearly each marijuana plant is labeled with a caregiver’s license number, the attorney said.
“To their credit, they consulted with an attorney in Durango and thought they were doing the right thing ... they wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” said Colleen Scissors, a Grand Junction attorney representing the family.
“They thought they were in compliance with the law, and if not, they want to make sure they are,” Scissors said.
Wolcott owns approximately 200 acres and has lived in Delta County for 39 years, she said.
The Delta County Commission last fall enacted a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial growing operations. The ban did not apply to use of marijuana as outlined in Amendment 20.
“We’ll continue to seek out people in violation and make criminal charges if necessary,” McKee said.
The bulk of the marijuana observed at the properties Sept. 7 was left undisturbed, although “some” dried marijuana was seized, McKee said. Officers clipped samples from plants and photographed them, he said.
The raid was led by the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Delta County Sheriff’s Department and involved the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.