$7M in pot is seized in Hilmar

Sun-Star staffMay 7, 2013 

A marijuana investigation conducted this month by the Merced County Sheriff's STAR Team resulted in a seizure valued about $7 million in Hilmar, authorities reported Monday.

Deputies discovered more than 2,500 pounds of unprocessed marijuana Friday at three homes on American Avenue. No suspects were taken into custody, according to deputy Delray Shelton.

Shelton said the marijuana was valued about $3,000 per pound. It was being grown inside the residences as well as outside.

The investigation into the marijuana operation is ongoing, Shelton said. Deputies do not think it was for medicinal purposes.

California's Proposition 215, a 1996 state voter-approved measure known as the Compassionate Use Act, made it legal for residents with a state identification card to possess and cultivate medical marijuana under certain guidelines.

The cards are administered by counties, and how many plants a patient can own is left up to local jurisdictions. In Merced County, a patient with a medical marijuana card is allowed to own six mature plants and 12 immature plants, in addition to a half-pound of finished product.

However, the state marijuana law conflicts with federal law, which does not allow for the use of medical marijuana. Merced County initially challenged the law in court, only to have its challenge rejected by a state judge seven years ago.

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