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Connecticut drug charges: Illegal cultivation and manufacturing

A Connecticut TV station filed a report about a drug bust in December 2014. Among other related charges, a Coventry couple was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and cultivation. Police said the defendants had 10 pounds of marijuana and operated a drug farm in the basement of their home.

Along with personal assets, authorities seized about $40,000 worth of marijuana plus equipment, paraphernalia and packaging materials. One defendant argued the marijuana was grown for personal use. Police investigators claimed the large quantity found indicated the couple was running a factory and cannabis business.

Only state-registered individuals with "debilitating medical conditions" are permitted to use marijuana in Connecticut. In some states with similar laws, patients also may grow a limited number of marijuana plants, but all personal cannabis cultivation is illegal in our state.

Police don't have to uncover a drug factory to justify drug manufacturing or cultivation charges. A defendant who has certain chemicals or seeds may be accused of possession and a separate manufacturing or cultivation crime. However, proof of intent often depends upon circumstantial evidence like growing equipment, packaging materials, scales and other paraphernalia.

Anyone who participates in the growing or making of an illegal drug can be prosecuted, even if the defendant played a tiny role in the process. A chemical supplier might be held responsible for providing an ingredient used to manufacture an illegal drug. But, the key is defendant awareness.

The state must show the accused knowingly participated in an unlawful act. Supplying ingredients, otherwise legal to sell, is not enough ammunition for prosecutors to get a conviction.

The burden is on prosecutors to prove every element of a drug charge. Criminal defense attorneys can obtain drug charge dismissals or charge reductions by dismantling inferences made by circumstantial evidence. It's also possible for defense lawyers to challenge police procedures used to arrest a defendant and gather evidence.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation" accessed Feb. 27, 2015

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