The "Suite" Smell of Medical Marijuana

March 12 2010, 9:56 AM

The Department of Homeland Security rushed out to a U.S. Census Bureau office in Grand Junction as police investigated what turned out to be a large marijuana-growing operation in a suite in the same building. Agents were tipped off by a census worker who noticed a strange odor emanating from the suite, which serves as a grow site for a medical marijuana dispensary, reports News8 in Grand Junction. Armed with a search warrant, authorities seized some 300 photocopies of patients' marijuana registry cards and doctors' recommendations, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel. "Task Force officers are looking to go through the records present to determine if they have adequate current medical marijuana card holders present to support the presence of over 1,000 marijuana plants," reads the search warrant affidavit. Under Colorado’s Amendment 20, registered patients can possess up to six marijuana plants at a time, "with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants that are capable of producing a usable form of marijuana."

Sid Squirrell, a developer and commercial Realtor with Bray & Company, tells officers he is the owner of the operation, called Naturals, and insists it is legal. Meanwhile, Chris Bartkowicz, the man behind the 224-plant operation recently raided by the feds in Highlands Ranch, could be released on bond as early as today, writes 9News. The 36-year-old claimed to be growing for medical marijuana patients, but he's expected to plead guilty, in a deal, to one count of illegal possession with intent to distribute.