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How To Know if Your Neighbor is Growing Marijuana

Stow Patch asked a Stow detective for some tips on identifying whether your neighbor is growing pot in their house or apartment. The biggest hint is odor.

Det. Tom Gottas, of the 's narcotics division, said the biggest hint to knowing if your neighbor is growing marijuana is the smell, but there's some other tips residents should know about as well. 

Common Signs of Marijuana Grow Operations:

  • Fans, scrubbers, and air fresheners running to mask the "intense robust organic" smell of marijuana
  • Heavy traffic in the area of the house by foot, car and bike
  • Groups of people staying short periods of time
  • People coming at all hours
  • Growing marijuana takes lots of power, so watch for extra power cords and generators
  • Large amounts of trash, including vegetative trash in bags
  • Large amounts of vegetative aids such as fertilizer and planters without seeing the landscape outside of the home to go with it
  • Covered exterior vents like roof gables and no open windows to keep the marijuana smell contained
  • Power and lights are used but you never see anyone collect the mail or see a person in the yard

Specifically in Stow, Gottas said he and his crew have seen a lot of "windows covered with reflective coverings, fans constantly running exhaust air from what should be a bedroom window, basement windows covered with black plastic, subjects carrying potting soil and fertilizer into the house and garden hoses running into the house."

If you don't see large amounts of trash on the tree lawn that doesn't always mean there isn't any suspicious vegetative trash somewhere. 

"A lot of these [people] now know we check their trash so they take the trimmings and clippings from the plants, in trash bags, and disgard them in a dumpster at some commercial or retail location," said Gottas. "Point being that if your neighbor is putting trash bags in his car, when they have regular trash service, and taking them somewhere, that might be suspicious."

The detective said most of the mentioned activity happens at night. 

"If it looks suspicious and is not what normal people do, there’s probably something not right about it. And the biggest hint or clue of all is the odor," he said. "A large scale marijuana grow has a distinctive, pungent odor that’s hard to describe, but very noticeable. Sometimes they manage to mask the odor pretty well, but typically at some spot around the house there is a noticeable smell."

Living in an apartment doesn't necessarily mean someone isn't growing pot either. 

"Here in Stow, we have also seen small grows in closets in apartments. They are obviously not as large and as sophisticated, but they still grow some pretty nice plants," Gottas said. "We have also seen plants growing in gardens in backyards where they can fit in nicely with corn. Some have even had potted plants on their decks figuring the neighbors won’t or don’t know what marijuana plants look like and think nobody would grow it right out in the open."

Marijuana-related stories in Stow:

Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 12:46 AM
"Stop using drugs and no more drug cartels...Its a fact...." Fact: That strategy has been tried for 100 years in this country with NO success. Drugs are cheaper, more potent, and more available than ever. Fact: Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2000, made treatment widely available, and their use rates are 1/10 of ours.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 12:49 AM
"When marijuana becomes legal people will get bored with it, immune to it, and turn to another possibly deadlier drug" The gateway myth has been dispelled. scienceblog.com/12116/study-says-marijuana-no-gateway-drug University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "No 'Smoking' Gun: Research Indicates Teen Marijuana Use Does Not Predict Drug, Alcohol Abuse." ScienceDaily, 4 Dec. 2006. Web. 17 Jan. 2013.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 01:12 AM
"Kevin like I said I cant argue stupidity.."? You are doing a great job making stupid arguments....I will commend you for that. "Guess what, you helped fund the murderers and are to a point partially responsible." Like I said...where is your proof I do the stuff? "..How does that make you feel?" I feel like the 'war on some drugs' is a hypocritical scam and should be shut down immediately. Special thanks to the fiscal conservatives in Congress that made the sequestration possible! According to the OMB's report to Congress, the Drug Enforcement Administration will lose $166 million from its $2.02 billion staffing and appropriations budget. DOD's Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities budget of $1.6 billion will be reduced by $157 million. DOJ's Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement budget of $528 million will be reduced by $43 million. The DEA Diversion Control Fee Account budget of $335 million will be reduced by $25 million. The Office of National Drug Control Policy budget of $25 million will be reduced by $2 million. The High-intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program budget of $239 million will be reduced by $20 million. "Other Federal Drug Control Programs," with a total budget of $100 million, will undergo $8 million in cuts.
Castor Troy March 05, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Kevin the hypocrisy on the issue is staggering. We live in a hollywood culture that glorifies partying and drug use among celebrities and we see them get slaps on the wrist. We hear stories of Steven Tyler spending millions on cocaine and people are perfectly fine giving him a job on T.V To me it's not a question of personal "beliefs" about what might happen if marijuana prohibition ended. It's a question of wanting policies that work and make sense. To anyone who is perfectly fine with the war on drugs, I appreciate your opinion. I would just ask you to check the news or take a look outside and let me know how it's working out.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 01:19 AM
I agree, Castor. The DEA is the most worthless bunch of a-holes on the taxpayer funded welfare dole. I'd love to see them laid off, on the street, eating from trash cans. Most famous drug warriors are festering, oozing hypocrites. Many famous ‘drug warriors’ have been and are guilty of using, smuggling, or pushing drugs. Nixon was addicted to the narcotic Dilantin. Ronald Reagan was a spokesman for Chesterfield cigarettes, the most deadly drug on the planet. Ronnie’s Iran Contra operation was a front for coke smuggling. Nancy Reagan (a child abuser) was addicted to tranquilizers. Bush H. (a Halicion addict) was on the board of Eli Lily, makers of the dangerous and defective Darvocet. Bill Clinton inhaled. Bush W. was an alcoholic that refused to deny doing illegal drugs. Rush Limbaugh was busted for pills. The list goes on and on.
Mike Parent March 05, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Jeff, marijuana isn't being introduced, it's being legalized. Many tens of millions of people are using it now.
Castor Troy March 05, 2013 at 01:32 AM
LOL I love how you brought up Iran Contra. Where is Oliver North now? Oh that's right. A comfortable job at Fox News. I hate how there is this misconception because I have the opinions I have that I must think drugs are cool. That is so far from the truth. I think the majority of them out there are horrible horrible substances that poison us. I just see no point blame the street dealers and demonizing the real victims of the war on drugs. The users who get trapped, addicted than thrown away by our society.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 01:33 AM
"Kevin I wish you would point out where I said Kevin Hunt was User (: It never happened get over it.." You wrote "You buy Marijuana you are supporting them not me..." and deleted your post. Also: Quoting FJH below: " Guess what, you helped fund the murderers and are to a point partially responsible." I suppose you support jailing beer drinkers since you say "Once again I do not support any drug use if its not for medicinal purposes", right?
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Oliver North's diary: entry for August 9, 1985, "Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S."
Mike Parent March 05, 2013 at 01:47 AM
FJH, Legalization would end the Black Market! After the last Prohibition all the Al Capones were replaced by Coors, Busch, Seagrams and hundreds of other Taxpaying, Job Creating legitimate and responsible business people. It's easier to rescind a bad law than change human nature. The Current Policy has been in effect for over 40 year and has not worked at all. Look to Porugal for a better model.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 01:55 AM
"Your so delicate, like a flower LOL.." No not really....but I will admit to being a grumpy old fart at times, FJH!!
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Prohibitionists = Devil Worshippers. A non-psychoactive component of marijuana, CBD, may be useful in preventing or treating alzheimer's. Anyone caught with this lifesaving chemical contained in a marijuana plant faces jail time by the feds (except for a handful of federal medical marijuana patients). Is the government trying to kill us by denying us this plant? Perhaps it is sweet justice that anti-marijuana crusader Ronald Reagan would have been helped by this plant, but instead died in an alzheimer’s induced stupor? Source: “Alzheimer's disease; taking the edge off with cannabinoids? “ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2190031/
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 05:23 PM
If you can't tell that someone is 'high', they are not 'impaired'. How can you tell if someone is 'high' on vicodin after they are given the stuff for back pain, etc? If they aren't stumbling around or drooling, the cops don't bother them.. To specifically answer your question about 'breathalyzers': “Given the results, the Cozart DDSV device was considered as an acceptable tool to detect cannabis use in oral fluid within a period of 2-3 hours after smoking.” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring:Volume 31(1)February 2009pp 131-134
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 05:25 PM
@ James..Prohibitionists are devil worshippers. Here's proof: Jonathan Magbie was a 27-year-old quadriplegic sentenced by Washington, D.C. Superior Court Jduge Juditch E. Retchin to 10 days in jail for marijuana possession. It was Magbie's first offense. Retchin was well aware of Magbie's condition, that he needed a ventilator to breathe, and that D.C.'s jails weren't equipped to handle him. Even prosecutors in the case asked her not to send him to jail. She did anyway. Once he was admitted, the jail's assistant medical director called Retchin, and begged her to allow Magbie to be sent to a hospital instead. She refused. Magbie soon fell into respiratory distress, and was sent to an emergency room. An incompetent doctor then sent him right back to the jail, where he died hours later. King describes Magbie's last moments: Magbie's last night at the D.C. jail could be likened to a night in Guantanamo: He was confined in a room with no means to communicate. Conditions worsened when he was returned [from] the hospital. Carbon dioxide was building up in his bloodstream because, without a ventilator, he wasn't breathing deeply enough. Magbie, fatigued from fighting to stay alive, drew smaller and smaller breaths and his heart finally gave out.
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Hmm... not sure if my previous post is going to show up. Try#2: “Given the results, the Cozart DDSV device was considered as an acceptable tool to detect cannabis use in oral fluid within a period of 2-3 hours after smoking.” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring:Volume 31(1)February 2009pp 131-134
Harmon March 05, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Do people honestly believe that most want Marijuana legalized solely for medicinal purposes? I am all for it for medicinal purposes only. For instance if its legalized for recreational use, How does one tell if a person is high? With a change of clothes, visine, mouthwash, and or some cologne its easily masked I would assume. How would Police tell when someone is driving under the influence? I know Pot can be digested or smoked... Its not like alchohol where a simple breathalizer can test you. And what about on a job like mine where one laps in focus can cost lives.... With all the people ileagally using now its safe to say people can not be trusted to come to work straight and I am sure if its legal recreationally people won't be able to be tested on jobs for it.... These are just questions, assumptions, and concerns on my part, Feel free to give your opinion if you can refrain from jumping me for giving mine...
Castor Troy March 05, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Hi FJH. I appreciate your well thought out comments, and I would like to answer your questions. Police routinely follow the standard field sobriety test to measure impairment. This goes for alcohol, and all types of drugs and medical conditions. They don't go straight for the breathalyzer because even alcohol consumption can be masked pretty easily. If you fail the field sobriety test you are done. Also if marijuana use were legalized private companies would still have the right to disallow its use among its employees.
Harmon March 05, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Makes sense to me TY
Kevin_Hunt March 05, 2013 at 05:55 PM
In WA and CO, employers do not have to accomodate marijuana use. I'm not sure if my previous posts are showing up (because I can't see them), but there IS a 'breathalyzer-type' instrument for detecting recent marijuana use that has been developed by Siemens.
James Thomas March 06, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Mr. Hunt, IF TRUE this is prosecutorial malfesance, not Devil worship. Do you know what Devil Worship means?
Ed Fisher March 06, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Most companies require random drug testing (urinalysis) to detect marijuana use. As for field sobriety tests....they are not required by any law and no one may be compelled to participate. Participation is strictly voluntary, and you always have the right to refuse.
Castor Troy March 07, 2013 at 03:52 PM
True Ed. You have the right to refuse the field test. They will just take you to jail and give you the blood test though. If you refuse the blood test you will automatically lose your license and face charges. Unless you have zero balance and dexterity, take the field sobriety test. They really aren't difficult to perform for most people, even while mildly impaired.
Ed Fisher March 07, 2013 at 07:28 PM
A common misconception. You won't be transported anywhere unless placed under arrest. The law compels you to produce I.D. You do not have to provide anything else nor converse with the police. Just show them you I.D. and say nothing. Decline to participate in any excercises, conversations or questioning. Know your rights.
Castor Troy March 07, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Hi Ed. I think you need to look up a term called Implied Consent. Which is clearly stated in Ohio law. All U.S. states have driver licensing laws which state that a licensed driver has given his implied consent to a field sobriety test and/or a Breathalyzer or similar manner of determining blood alcohol concentration. These laws have generally been upheld by courts as a valid exercise of the states' police power, against challenges under the Fourth Amendment (as a reasonable search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (as not violative of the right against self-incrimination).
Ed Fisher March 07, 2013 at 08:51 PM
The law clearly states the use of chemical tests. Physical performance tests (field sobriety test) is not referenced in the ORC. Breathalyzer, yes......but no "and/or" referenced. Read the law accurately and carefully.
Castor Troy March 07, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Yeah you are right. Field Sobriety test isn't in the Ohio Revised code under Implied Consent. I still think it's your best bet to comply with the field sobriety test though. In my experiences it just always seems best to cooperate with the police so you can get out of the situation.
JIM STARKEY March 07, 2013 at 11:48 PM
WOW, Ed Fisher, Last time I looked you were the law expert on ccw. Now you are expert on sobriety tests, Police procedure, individual rights, marijuanna, and mostly everything that comes along. I have not looked at Patch for last monthor so. I apologize for not but I do have a life, and it doesn't allow me as much time. Ed you need to get off your podium. Remember Ed "In the kindom of the blind, the one eyed man is king". Hope this isn't way beyond you. Sorry to tell you this but you need to get a worth while life, and let others solve their problems with out all your sel froclamed expertise, which by the way is mostly wrong or inaccurate.
Ed Fisher March 08, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Nothing wrong with knowledge. If you live long enough, you tend to pick up on a few things. I research things that apply to me. If it upsets you sensibilities........I just don't care. When I read your comments, I am both curious as to your jealousy and entertained by your false sense of education.
J. T. Cornpone March 08, 2013 at 01:18 AM
starkey, you are truly a dipstick. what kind of life can you have under the bridge ?
Kevin_Hunt March 08, 2013 at 03:17 AM
@ James IT'S TRUE This is devil worship, not prosecutorial malfesance. Drug warpigs = devil worshippers and enemies of God. Jose Guerana, an Iraq war veteran was gunned down by an AZ SWAT team who was trying to reach their quota of drug raids. No drugs were found. The officers denied paramedics access to their victim and allowed Guerena to bleed to death in front of his 4 year old son. http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/11/27/swat-team-shooting-marine-jose-guerena-ortiz-provokes-rage/

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