Garden-Shop Owner Resents Police Oversight

Garden-Shop Owner Resents Police Oversight
Posted by FoM on March 14, 2000 at 18:31:11 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Oregon Live
Garden shop owner Bob Cronk is not happy with his role as unofficial snitch for an anti-drug task force. Cronk's Green Gardens store has been under surveillance by a task force of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Mercer Island policer officers investigating local marijuana growers. 
The store specializes in hydroponics, a method of cultivation that grows plants without soil. It is believed to produce better flavors in fruit and vegetables, and is favored by indoor marijuana growers. An affidavit from a recent task-force case says Cronk's garden-supply business indirectly led to more than 100 convictions for marijuana-related offenses. "It just makes the detectives' jobs easier to have a place like that, that supplies equipment where there's a decent chance they're using it to do something illegal," Bellevue police spokeswoman Marcia Harden. Cronk, 45, says he feels harassed by the officers watching his business. "People shopping here shouldn't have to worry about having their door broken down. People shouldn't be suspects for buying garden supplies here," he said. "It's nobody's damn business what you buy here, anymore than what you walk out of the drugstore with." About once a year, Cronk says, someone inquires about growing marijuana and is promptly asked to leave. "I don't know anything about the drug culture," he said. "We want to be known as a place that has some of the best and most innovative products for gardening. We don't want to be known as the place for dope growing." He knows the hydroponic gear -- as well as high-wattage lights, odor-cleansing ozonators and hoods to direct heat downward -- are commonly used to grow marijuana. But they're all legal products with legitimate purposes, he notes. Attorney Bob Leen had a client who was nabbed after being followed from Green Gardens. "The police are engaging in something that I'd call targeting," Leen said. "The police have no prior suspicion of them (Cronk's customers). They're saying that the fact that people go to this store is enough to justify checking them out." Sheila Weirth, a King County deputy prosecuting attorney assigned to the task force full-time, said following people home is a common tactic. "(Police) don't have to have probable cause to start following anyone. What you do is exposed to the public -- the police can watch that," she said. But police don't always choose the right customers to follow. Judy LaPlante, a regular Green Gardens customer, said she recently saw a King County sheriff's car cruising back and forth in front of her house. She suspects the officer was interested in the 1,000-watt bulb in her greenhouse, where she raises flowers and keeps a turtle tank warm. The Associated Press03/14/00 7:28 PM EasternBellevue, Wash. (AP) 2000 Oregon Live LLCCopyright 2000 Associated Press. Related Article:Garden Store and the Pot Police Articles on Grow Lights & Growing Pot:
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on March 15, 2000 at 17:40:41 PT
 Once again,an example of an absurd,"police state",usage of law enforcement,to sniff out pot. It's rather obvious,that the over-funded drug war,is making jobs,to attempt to justify the behemoth amounts of money,that are thrown at the "War on Drugs"....disgusting....dddd
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