Former resident is not cited after police investigation

Neighbors might feel uneasy about marijuana growing on the other side of the wall from their apartment, but when a grower is authorized by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to grow it, the operation is legal.

If people suspect illegal activity, they should call their local police so officers can invesigate.

That's what occurred this spring in King City, according to police Chief Chuck Fessler.

"Around the first part of March, we received information from an anonymous resident living in the King City Apartments indicating strong smells and unusual traffic at an apartment in the complex," said Fessler in an email to the Regal Courier. "Over the next month, we received additional information of persons carrying large bags into the apartment in question."

According to Fessler, Officer Dan Hyson started an investigation and maintained contact with the information source.

"In April, Kathy Milne, property manager of the apartments, made an apartment inspection and observed marijuana plants," Fessler said. "She immediately notified Officer Hyson. Officer Hyson went to the apartment and made contact with the resident... With permission of (the resident), Hyson inspected the apartment and in due course was given permission to observe his marijuana plants."

According to Fessler, the resident had an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card and a grower's certificate.

"Further investigation in the apartment did not reveal any hazardous material," Fessler said. "There was no apparent fire hazard observed. It appeared that some electrical modification had been done for the grow lights - not necessarily criminal but definitely a violation of city code.

"The results of the investigation were forwarded to the Washington County District Attorney's Office for possible grand jury review. The return (response) from the DA's office was a no-complaint due to the fact that (the resident) had a valid OMMP card and was a registered grower."

The reports were forwarded to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program authority for review of any violations of the medical marijuana law, said Fessler, who added that often this type of information is considered medical and covered by federal patient privacy laws.

"During the entire investigation, Officer Hyson maintained contact with the informant," Fessler said. "Since the subject has a valid medical marijuana card and the DA office did not indict, as disconcerting the situation was to the neighbors, (the resident) was (only) in violation of the city building code and rules of the apartment management but not marijuana possession laws."

Hyson said he made a secondary appeal to the DA's office to reconsider an indictment, but it opted not to respond, reaffirming its decision not to reconsider prosecuting the resident, who has since moved away.

Fessler added that although neighbors thought the resident was conducting illegal activities plus operating a meth lab, "there was no meth lab found."

Hyson emailed the informant: "While inside (the resident's) apartment, I did a thorough check for hazardous materials such as fertilizers, pesticides, solvents, etc., but I located no such items.

"The only 'noxious' odor detected while at the location was the very strong odor of marijuana. That is why the police department did not notify or request any hazardous materials response. Also, there was absolutely no evidence of methamphetamine manufacture or possession."

Finally, Hyson wrote to the informant, "... I can say with a degree of satisfaction that as a result of the information we received from you and you working together with your police department, a livability problem at the King City Apartments community was identified and resolved.

"I hope that your willingness to come forward with this type of information serves as an example to the other members of your community that maintaining two-way open communication with your police department is an effective crime-prevention technique."

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