New York authorities continue to pour valuable resources into hunting down and arresting marijuana growers. The Seneca County Sheriff's Office recently conducted its annual operation to locate and destroy illegal marijuana growing sites. They were assisted by the New York State Police, New York Environmental Conservation Police and the Seneca County Probation Department. They arrested one man and charged him with felony marijuana possession and misdemeanor unlawful growing of marijuana.
The man reportedly has a history of unlawfully growing cannabis and was on probation for being caught with 10 pounds of pot in 2013. He is being held in the Seneca County Correctional Facility on a $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond. Deputies say that they found about 8 pounds of pot at the man's home.
The operation also found pot growing outside in four of the 10 towns in Seneca County. Presumably, those plants were destroyed and not tied in with any growers. Deputies also complained that pot growers often use farmer's corn fields and do significant damage to the corn crops.
It is presently unknown whether the authorities found the drugs inside the man's home or growing in fields outside. Defense counsel will examine whether the police used a search warrant to enter the man's home, and if so, the validity of the warrant will be examined. If the plants were growing free on the outside, a defense may be asserted that they were growing wildly and not the defendant's responsibility.
That theory would raise questions of whether the defendant had the mens rea under New York law to commit the crimes charged. Potential defenses may exist if the plants grew haphazardly in the vicinity of the man's home. Also, if they reseeded from previous years and are now growing wild, the defendant may have a defense on those grounds. Furthermore, defense of a marijuana possession charge may be facilitated by the advent of medical marijuana, which makes abrupt searches and seizures without a warrant even more problematic for authorities.
Source: syracuse.com, "Deputies find 309 marijuana plants, arrest 1 person in Seneca County", Samantha House, Oct. 4, 2015