Pot grower had lapsed prescription

It turns out that a 35-year-old South Whidbey man arrested for having a large pot-growing operation in his home had a prescription for medical marijuana.

The problem for Linus Travers, Jr., was that his prescription had briefly lapsed when detectives raided his Clinton house on Jan. 15, 2008.

Seattle attorney Jeffrey Steinborn, an expert in marijuana defense, said Travers decided to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of 40 grams or less of marijuana rather than fight in court over the prescription-expiration issue.

“The doctor required that you renew your authorization every year, though the statute doesn’t require it,” Steinborn said, adding that many doctors don’t require a renewal.

In court Feb. 23, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock agreed with the recommended sentence worked out by the prosecution and defense as part of the plea bargain. He sentenced Travers to 14 days in jail and ordered him to pay $717 in fines and fees.

Under the agreement, the Island County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have to return the estimated $15,000 in pot, the growing equipment or even a purple bong seized when investigators served a search warrant on Travers’ house on Kingston Court.

Travers originally was charged with manufacturing marijuana, which is a felony charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said he was satisfied that Travers has a valid medical problem that he was treating with medical marijuana. Travers got the prescription from a doctor at Virginia Mason.

Ohme said he was concerned about the sheer amount of pot that Travers had grown. The detectives found 95 pot plants in different stages of growth, 26 plants hanging to dry and “a large quantity of harvested bud,” court records indicate.

But at the time of Travers’ arrest, the state didn’t have any guidelines about how much medical marijuana a person can possess beyond a 60-day supply. But Ohme said Travers’ doctor specified that he should eat the pot, which means consuming a larger amount than typical.

Detectives with the Island County’s Sheriff’s Office found out about the marijuana-growing operation from an anonymous tipster. A couple of detectives went to the house and “smelled the overwhelming odor of growing marijuana” when Travers opened the garage door.

Based on this information, the detectives received a search warrant. Inside the house they found a sophisticated growing operation. Marijuana plants were growing in a bedroom, a closet and three basement rooms. Some of the plants were in pots while others were growing hydroponically in plastic pools, court records state.

Steinborn believes that the investigation and prosecution of marijuana cases is a huge waste of tax dollars, as well as a terrible violation of people’s rights.

“I see people with valid prescriptions being terrorized by police all the time,” he said. “Until the plant is free, no one is safe.”

Steinborn said the science of the health benefits of marijuana is clear and overwhelming.

“It’s a health risk not to use cannabis,” he said.

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