Deputies and state agents conducting a compliance check at a Delta County marijuana grow found plant numbers exceeding the legal amount, as well as an explosion-prone butane extraction lab, which is illegal, Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor said.
The excess plants and lab were found at a home on Stahl Road Sept. 18; the DCSO announced the operation Thursday.
A resident of the home faces possible charges. The investigation is not complete and the sheriff is turning over the evidence to the District Attorney’s Office for a direct-file of charges, which has not yet occurred.
In all, deputies and Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents from its black market marijuana unit seized 61 pounds of marijuana concentrate, 34 pounds of bulk, dried marijuana, 80 marijuana plants and the butane lab equipment, Taylor said.
A sheriff’s detective and CBI agents paid a visit to the home on Sept. 18, where they saw mature marijuana plants growing in the open, he said.
“They also saw several mature marijuana plants near a primary residence. It was not locked or enclosed,” the sheriff added.
The homeowner voluntarily allowed the detective and agents onto the property for the check; Taylor said they counted about 80 or so plants in the backyard. In an outbuilding, they reportedly found three, 5-gallon butane tanks, commonly used in extracting marijuana concentrate, as well as “a sophisticated marijuana-extraction lab, including pumps and extraction tubes,” per Taylor’s report.
The detective and agents the obtained a search warrant.
The sheriff’s office then seized the alleged concentrate and dried marijuana, along with the butane oil lab and the plants.
Although it is legal to grow and use certain amounts of marijuana in Colorado, no more than 12 plants may be grown on a residential property (with a few exceptions related to medical marijuana), no matter how many people might live there. The amount of marijuana allegedly found at the Stahl Road home by far exceeded legal amounts and was afoul of both state law and a Delta County ordinance that reiterates the state’s limits for residential properties.
“With the legalization of marijuana, there are always those who stretch the law or break it by doing this,” Taylor said, speaking generally. “They are nowhere close to being in compliance with the state law or the county ordinance.”
Butane oil labs are also illegal.
“Butane extraction labs are extremely dangerous. In the last several years, (these) have exploded, caused vires and severe injuries, including death, throughout the country since the legalization of marijuana (in Colorado),” Taylor said.
“They’re used mainly to extract what’s better known as hash oil. The contents that the butane lab extracts is at an extremely high THC number,” he added, referring to the psychoactive component of marijuana.
Other types of drug-related labs have been found recently in Delta County.
In late 2018, authorities there discovered an alleged drug lab in the Paonia area, which a Drug Enforcement Administration agent in charge described as “one hell of a chemistry set.”
Taylor said authorities now suspect the hallucinogen mescaline was being manufactured in the home lab.
The person of interest in the case remains in Michigan on drug allegations there and has not been extradited. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will be prosecuting the Paonia case, Taylor said.
Federal court records do not yet show a case filed.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.