neighbors dealing drugs
December 26, 2005 11:11 PM   Subscribe

My next door neighbors are running an indoor marijuana farm.

My wife and I own a condominum and I am the complex superintendent. Our neighbors moved in about a year ago and my wife and I became suspicious when they gave conflicting and elusive answers about their professions. They moved in the middle of the night and in the year they've been here we've seen them a total of three times. Their skylights are left open even in pouring rainstorms and it's obvious no one is living there.

I am not the landlord of this unit. At the HOA meeting my wife told the owner of the unit (the landlord) how odd it was that we'd never seen the tenants of the unit and the other weird things and he just said "that's just the way some tenants are." Since I am the superintendent I have the master key and every year the units need their sprinklers checked and when I went inside to check my suspicions were confirmed.

The upstairs has been completely sealed off with a separate locked door, there are air-filtering units supplying the room, the floor is littered with leaves and the entire unit smells like fresh marijuana. I have not seen the plants since the grow room is sealed off and locked. With the extensive remodeling the tenants have done I have a feeling they have done so with the consent of the landlord.

What are my responsibilities as the complex superintendent?
Should I notify the police? If so, what do I tell them?
Can I be held liable if I do and say nothing?
Did my entering their unit compromise the evidence?
What does this mean for my property values?

Please no lectures about marijuana legalization or the futility of the War on Drugs. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (116 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is anyone else likely to find out? If so, you should definitely be the first to tell the police.

In any case, irrespective of your sympathies, indoor grow-ops pose a fire hazard, and these tenants don't hang around much.

Notify the police (as superintendent, was checking sprinklers; noticed leaves and smell)
posted by Gyan at 11:30 PM on December 26, 2005


I oppose drug illegalization. However, I also thiink that your neighbors are being inconsiderate by running their illegal growing operation in your building. If I were you, I would just drop them an anonymous note, something to the effect of, "The game is up. We know you are growing weed here. Please take down your operation and move out this week."

If, a week later, their operation is still going, by all means call the cops.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:33 PM on December 26, 2005


I would cover yourself first by asking the owner if you can do some "routine maintanence". Similar to what Gyan said. So you have permission to enter the premises. You can count your first visit out I believe, since the tenants had no notice of your entry, which I think makes it illegal. Or you can just call the cops and tell them of the suspicious behavior you've observed.

Is there anyways you can find more cause for the police to check the place out? Perhaps the power meter, or somthing similar..
posted by jackofsaxons at 11:36 PM on December 26, 2005


I guess the real question is this - do you want to get them in trouble, or do you just want them to stop doing what they're doing? If you just want them to stop doing what they're doing, I think that an anonymous note would do the trick.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:40 PM on December 26, 2005


The problem is that if the smell is contained within the apartment, and there's no indication otherwise of a grow-op, the superintendent seems the only outside party (due to the master key) who could have stumbled onto the ops. So will the anonymous note really be anonymous, considering that the poster has expressed his concerns earlier to the landlord (who seems to be in the know)?
posted by Gyan at 11:45 PM on December 26, 2005


To be honest, I think that the growers will probably just be glad that whoever discovered their operation is giving them the opportunity to shut it down without being arrested.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:55 PM on December 26, 2005


(1) Consult an attorney. Your first four questions have no place on an internet discussion forum.

(2) In your place, I would probably visit the police station tomorrow afternoon. I wouldn't dial 911; I would drive down and talk with someone face to face. I live in a small town, and I would speak directly with the chief. If I lived in a city, I would make sure I was talking with a detective or lieutenant.
posted by cribcage at 11:55 PM on December 26, 2005


What makes you suspect the landlord is in on the deal? Just because they've thrown up some drywall doesn't mean they have permission. Building a couple interior walls only takes a day or so. Add a coat of paint and a false outlet and it looks pretty legit.

It seems odd that the landlord would risk losing the building for a cut of the pot profits.
posted by ryanrs at 11:59 PM on December 26, 2005


As an addendum - your note doesn't necessarily have to be anonymous. You could say something to the effect of,

"We have recieved some complaints, blah blah blah blah blah. I will need to come by next week to make sure everything is on the up-and-up, blah blah blah blah blah. Please be at home so that I may come by and check out the apartment."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:59 PM on December 26, 2005


I was going to storm in here and staunchly argue something along the lines of "Are they shooting off guns? Dealing crack? No? Then leave 'em alone!"

But, no, I can't. We're not talking about some attentive residents with a half dozen plants in a closet or something, are we?

Depending on where you live, you may be liable if you don't go to the cops. Of course as it is now, you probably have plausible deniability that you really had no idea - as long as no one saw you enter the unit, and you've told no one else who would stand as witness against you.

However, an unattended farm is just dangerous. As much as it pains me to say it, you either need to notify the cops or get them to leave, pronto.

An anonymous note on the door should be enough of a clue if you just want them to leave, but if they're never there that's not exactly an ideal solution.

If you want to get the law involved, simply calling them up on the tip line or non-emergency line, explaining that you can smell what smells like a farm and inviting them over to take a walk around the outside of the property and have a whiff of the air should be enough - assuming you can actually smell this outside the unit.

You might want to check with the landlord and tell him what you know. If he's actually involved, it would probably be cleaned up quickly.

I seriously doubt you comprimised any crime scene or trace evidence. Fingerprints only last about 72 hours, beyond that is iffy. It's not a homicide scene, rape scene, nor a grand larceny or grand theft scene - they're not going to be looking for fragile traces of bodily fluids, clothing fibers, footprints, gunpowder traces or other. There's the reek of cannibis everywhere, and a gazillion tiny plant trimmings and cuttings as well.

Also, keep in mind that any of these options may be physically dangerous. Just because it's marijuana doesn't mean that they're peaceful, mellow hippies. There's a lot of money in growing good marijuana. They may be armed and/or organized. (Insert argument against the inflationary drug war here.)



Option #249,193, also possibly dangerous to your health: Unlock the door one night. Post the address somewhere, say craigslist, indicating free plants and growing materials. Hide in your condo and bring in anything that can be carried off. Wait. In the morning the whole operation would be cleaned out.
posted by loquacious at 12:06 AM on December 27, 2005


I don't know what jurisdiction you live in. In BC, only 24 hours notice is required to enter a suite, and it need not be given in person; a note in the unit's mailbox is enough. Give 24 hours notice of a smoke alarm inspection to every tenant on the floor, for example. Even if the tenants are not there to read the note, it is considered, in BC, to be adequate notice given.

Then you can go to the cops. Like Afroblanco, I am opposed to the criminalization fo marijuana. That said, it is a hazard to the other tenants and should be shut down.

My problem, if I were you, would be the worry that I would face repercussions from unhappy criminals.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:09 AM on December 27, 2005


An anonymous note on the door should be enough of a clue if you just want them to leave, but if they're never there that's not exactly an ideal solution.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that even if they aren't around much, they'll probably get the note within a week.

Why? Because pot, like any other plant, needs to be tended to. Even if they have some sort of high-tech hydro operation going, chances are that they stop in at least once a week to check out their crops.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:13 AM on December 27, 2005


As long as you did the sprinkler inspection legitimately (that is, you notified them in writing in advance that you would be entering the premises -- which they presumably ignored since they don't live there) then I don't see any reason to believe that any evidence has been lost or tainted. Even then, the rules of evidence apply to law enforcement officers and not regular people, so it really doesn't matter how you discovered the grow room -- the courts will only really care about the evidentiary actions taken by the police.

It seems like you want to get rid of these people, so the issue then becomes do you talk to the landlord then the police, or just go straight to the police. I would do the former. I'm not clear on exactly why you presume that he's in on the deal. It could very well be that he has no idea whatsoever and would be aghast that something like that is happening on his property. Just because they did a fair amount of remodeling doesn't mean that the landlord necessarily knows anything. These people could have given him any number of excuses or premises for wanting to make modifications.

However, if the landlord does not immediately show interest in getting them evicted and is not completely shocked that such a thing is happening then you may indeed be correct in your guess. If you really suspect this might be the case then just go directly to the police.

Either way, I would expect that the police would be very happy to hear from you and would not have any motivation whatsoever to get you in trouble. They must get leads from supers/landlords about illicit activity on somewhat of a regular basis so I would expect that it's a known relationship.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:16 AM on December 27, 2005


Also, as far as the legal stuff goes - you don't really have any proof that they're growing, right? I mean, it would be one thing if you actually saw pot plants or drug deals. However, all you have now is suspicion.

You went in to check the sprinklers, which is part of your job, and you saw some things that made you think they were growing pot. Is it actually a law anywhere that if you "suspect" a crime is being committed that you have to tell the cops?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:19 AM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanco : "you don't really have any proof that they're growing, right?"

From the post - "the floor is littered with leaves and the entire unit smells like fresh marijuana."
posted by Gyan at 12:20 AM on December 27, 2005


Still isn't the same thing as actually seeing pot plants.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:22 AM on December 27, 2005


Uh, be aware that if this is a somewhat large-scale operation you're probably dealing with an organization that is larger than the two or three people that you see. It goes without saying that the people involved are going to be mighty pissed off at you if they find out you've outed them. Personally, I would mind my own business and not get involved, period. If, out of a ethical or moral obligation you feel you must, it's not something you need to directly involve yourself in (ie. leaving a note). If feel strongly you need to involve the police, call the anonymous tip line from a payphone and leave it at that.

Do NOT enter the apartment again. You have no idea what kind of surveillance they've got going on, and there's no reason to put your safety at risk to get some pot plants off the street.

Option #249,193, also possibly dangerous to your health: Unlock the door one night. Post the address somewhere, say craigslist, indicating free plants and growing materials. Hide in your condo and bring in anything that can be carried off. Wait. In the morning the whole operation would be cleaned out.

I would really suggest not doing that. In fact, that's probably one of the stupider things you could do.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:23 AM on December 27, 2005


Assuming the leaves are from cannabis plants, that's illegal right there.
posted by Gyan at 12:24 AM on December 27, 2005



Also, as far as the legal stuff goes - you don't really have any proof that they're growing, right?


Oh come on, read the post. If you were to walk into an apartment that bangs of pot, where the floor was covered with leaves, that contains air filtering supplies and a separate locked-off compartment, and which no one lives in, what would you think?

Where the hell is William of Occam when you need him?
posted by SweetJesus at 12:35 AM on December 27, 2005 [1 favorite]


Once again, my question was this - are you obligated to report things that you suspect to the police? Or only things that you have direct proof of?

My guess was the latter. I could be wrong.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:37 AM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanco : "What I'm saying is that he is no more obligated to report his neighbors based on leaves and smell then you are obligated to report people at a party for smoking a joint."

Except that there's marijuana leaves, skylights, smell of "fresh marijuana", air filters and suspicious encounters with the elusive tenants. If the poster is opposed to prohibition, as he seems to be, then it's a pragmatic dilemma, not an ethical one.
posted by Gyan at 12:39 AM on December 27, 2005


I just want to echo the suggestion to be careful, whatever it is that you do end up doing. I've been held up at gunpoint by some really, really small scale operations (I'm talking this kid was just in college selling to make some extra cash). This is obviously some serious shit that is going on and they probably make a ton of cash. Don't go getting yourself killed now. If you feel that you must take action, allow the cops to do the dirty work. Warning them with notes or phone calls or even talking to the landlord don't seem like the safest ideas in my mind. Obviously not all large scale marijuana businesses are run by gun-toting gangsters, but then, you never know, eh?
posted by panoptican at 12:58 AM on December 27, 2005


Another question worth asking - how much harm is there in just letting them be?

If it was completely untended, I would imagine that the garden could be a fire hazard. However, I would imagine that they probably check their garden frequently, even if you don't see them when they arrive/leave.

So what harm are they really doing?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:02 AM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanca, I think anonymous has already made it clear that (s)he wants to do something. The question isn't about weather or not their is harm in growing weed.
posted by panoptican at 1:07 AM on December 27, 2005


FYI,

The FBI just busted the Cartoon Network in NY, which was a large-scale operation that used distributed grow-houses similar to what you describe. Those guys had stockpiles of guns, paid enforcers, and probably wouldn't hesitate to kill someone if they thought they might rat them out. Be aware that it's a big money making operation, and often has ties to organized crime (Mafia, Yardiees, Russians, various Asian gangs...).

A few plants is one thing, but an organized grow-house means they've got financial backing. I would stay the hell away.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:10 AM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanca, I think anonymous has already made it clear that (s)he wants to do something.

I'm not entirely sure that is clear. To me, it seems like they could just be wanting to cover their ass, which is perfectly understandable.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:10 AM on December 27, 2005


These people are criminals who don't care about the safety of the rental property or the other tenants. I've seen a similar situation, and believe me, when these people are done they aren't going to do anything to restore the condo to it's original condition. They are operating a commercial agricultural business in a residence. They present a risk on many levels and should be treated accordingly.
posted by gallois at 1:13 AM on December 27, 2005


Sweet Jesus - Where are you getting your information on Cartoon Network? The article that you linked to said nothing about guns, killers, enforcers, Mafia, Yakuza, or anything like that.

Cartoon Network was a MARIJUANA DELIVERY SERVICE. How hard do you think it could possibly be to bust one of those?

My guess is that nobody bothered to bust them during their 6 years of operations simply because pot is generally considered to be a "nuisance crime."

(BTW, I don't mean to downplay the possible danger of anonymous's situation. These are, in fact, drug dealers, and drug dealers are sometimes dangerous. Still doesn't mean that s/he needs to call the cops, though)
posted by Afroblanco at 1:26 AM on December 27, 2005


What kind of people are these? Do think they'd kill you or try to get revenge or something if they "knew you knew"? It seems like the simplest way to get rid of them is simply to tell them that you know they're growing pot there and you don't appreciate it. I think most people in that situation would want to get the fuck out as soon as possible once they know their jig is up. I mean, they're simply not going to stick around.

If you do call the police, assuming that they didn't use a false name, etc on the forms or that the police don't set up a sting (which they probably will given the amount we're talking about) these people are basically going to have their lives ruined for good. Probably spend a couple of years in jail, etc. Would you really feel comfortable doing that?

And Afroblanco, no one smokes whole leaves. If he saw leaves on the floor that's definitely proof, IMO.

A simple anonymous note giving them 1-2-week lead-time to clear out will definitely see the end of their enterprise.
posted by delmoi at 1:34 AM on December 27, 2005


Where are you getting your information on Cartoon Network? The article that you linked to said nothing about guns, killers, enforcers, Mafia, Yakuza, or anything like that.

Read some of the DEA court documents, you'll find them somewhere (I forget). There are plenty of recorded phone conversations where they're talking about shotguns and the guys they paid to guard the production and packaging centers.

Also, it's established fact that organized crime is involved with pot distribution and smuggling at the wholesale level. Try reading the DEA's microgram newsletter sometime, and you'll see what I mean.

Cartoon Network was a MARIJUANA DELIVERY SERVICE. How hard do you think it could possibly be to bust one of those?

Uh, they got busted cold. But it still takes years to build a case, gather witnesses, flip people, bring it to trial and get a conviction. It was a large scale business with somewhere around 40,000 customers. It doesn't take six weeks.

My guess is that nobody bothered to bust them during their 6 years of operations simply because pot is generally considered to be a "nuisance crime."

Your guess is wrong. It takes years to build up a federal case and bring it to the point where you can bust everyone. They were inside the network for over two years, from what I understand.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:37 AM on December 27, 2005


Personally, though, if I were in your situation I think I would just ignore it, although i can understand being worried about property values. They'll probably get busted eventually if they're this careless, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable fucking people over in this manner.

On the other hand, while they're probably fine people, it's possible that they're not and could be idiots who want to play gangster and try to intimidate, or even whack you in order to keep you quiet. Never know.

I suppose it's a question of balancing your concern for not busting these people vs. your own risk.

Just out of curiosity, aren't you required to notify tenants before entering their apartments? Why didn't you do that in this case?
posted by delmoi at 1:41 AM on December 27, 2005


40k customers? No way. That sounds like DEA fantasy world stuff. Like when they busted someone with 2 billion hits of LSD a year ago.
posted by delmoi at 1:44 AM on December 27, 2005


Obviously not all large scale marijuana businesses are run by gun-toting gangsters, but then, you never know, eh?

Um, I think that you can be fairly certain that their is a criminal organization with guns behind this venture. Until drugs are made legal, organized crime will always be involved. Is there really any doubt about this? Consider how much it costs to rent a condo just to grow pot.

I also oppose the illegalization of drugs, but in this case I would go directly to the police. You aren't talking about busting someone smoking a joint at a party, you are talking about organized crime, with all of the violence and anti-social behavior that this implies. Go to the police, get it removed. If you are afraid of repercussions, make an anonymous phone call.
posted by sic at 1:52 AM on December 27, 2005


I'll admit, I am in some ways playing devil's advocate here, in regards to calling the cops.

Personally, I don't think I could ever drop a dime on somebody for a pot-related crime. However, I can see why others might.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:56 AM on December 27, 2005


sic: I think you're being a little melodramatic. Have you taken a survey of pot growers to see how many are involved in organized crime? You don't need to be involved iwith the mob in order to sell weed.
posted by delmoi at 1:58 AM on December 27, 2005


Also, I really don't think you can be held liable for not telling anyone.
posted by delmoi at 1:59 AM on December 27, 2005


FWIW, I still say that an anonymous note would do the trick.

Even if these guys are hardened gangsters, if they are given the choice between (A) getting the fuck out of dodge scot-free or (B) shooting you, which do you think they're going to choose? Seriously.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:15 AM on December 27, 2005


(and this is, of course, assuming that they somehow know that YOU wrote the letter)
posted by Afroblanco at 2:16 AM on December 27, 2005


The one "commercial" pot grower I'd ever known (a long time ago) had guns.

But it's because they lived in the boonies, there were large, dangerous wild animals in the area, they grew high grade, expensive weed, and they'd been robbed by punks before - and this grower certainly wasn't "organized crime". High grade weed moves itself. Seriously, it grows legs and just walks on out the door. No clockwork man made out of hash required.

The guns were never there to be used against cops or informants or anything like that, and never to be used to "go down in a blaze of glory" or any of that DEA fantasy bullshit.

There was always a firm, spoken plan to surrender quietly in the unlikely situation that they ever got raided. It's just weed, man, it's not worth killing a human being for. Nothing - or very little - is.

However, one data sample is not a set. Guns and violence and organized crime could certainly be involved in anon's scenario.

If anon is more concerned about the fire danger and potential structural damage rather than the legality, there are ways to confirm that the wiring and watering is safe - say - more sprinkler inspections.

Or just say hello and introduce yourself.

But maybe I'm just brave and/or stupid. I'll talk to almost anyone, and I've talked my way out of tight, stupid corners many a time, and even made friends along the way.
posted by loquacious at 2:35 AM on December 27, 2005


What are my responsibilities as the complex superintendent?

Your responsibilities are to act as a representative of the complex owner and maintain a clean, safe building for the tenants. A growing operation is neither clean nor safe.

Should I notify the police? If so, what do I tell them?

You have no choice. Depending on where you live, failure to report a crime may be a crime. As the building superintendent, you have a responsibility to the building complex and everyone who calls it home.

Anonymous notes to the growers are not an option. If they figure out where the note came from, things may get unpleasant. If they leave without hassle, they will just set up in another building putting other tenants at risk and causing headaches for the superintendent in the next building.

Does your local police station have an anonymous tip line / crime line? I've seen them in the UK and Canada. If so, use it. Why waste your time in court or at the police station? The grow-op already contains all the evidence the police need to get a conviction. Revealing your name or testifying in court is pointless, wastes your time and could lead to reprisal.

Can I be held liable if I do and say nothing?

Yes. You can be held legally liable for failure to report a crime (again, depends on where you live), professionally liable if it damages the building in your care and morally liable if any of your tenants are hurt as a result of the grow-op.

Did my entering their unit compromise the evidence?

No. It may, however, have compromised your safety (or the safety of your family) if the growers have any form of surveillance.

If the police already have the grow-op under surveillance (or, if they ever seize the growers' surveillance records), it would be evidence against you if you decide to just ignore the grow-op or let them get away (with an anonymous note to the growers).

What does this mean for my property values?

I think one grow-op in the building's history will have less impact on property value than an active growing operation which could lead to fire, violence or a host of other problems for your tenants.

Disclaimer: I believe pot is healthier than cigarettes, the war on drugs is bullshit and I would never report an individual for using drugs. I have no problems with people growing a few plants inside their own home for personal use. If I came across a grow-op in a remote forest or abandoned warehouse, I would look the other way. But setting up a grow-op in a residential building where people sleep? That's just rude.
posted by stringbean at 3:14 AM on December 27, 2005


I'll be honest. The potential ramifications of this issue did not hit me until I started reading the comments, but it really could be a very dangerous situation. I think your first question needs some serious contemplation.

What are my responsibilities as the complex superintendent?

Call me crazy, but this is a line I think I'd have defined a little earlier in my superintendent tenure. You really need to answer this question before you even begin thinking about the other questions. And we can't help you with that, as cribcage pointed out. That depends on the laws where you are, any contract you have signed, and (in my opinion, at least) your commitment to your job.

There's a lot of money to be made by drugs, and (presumeably, where you are) ALL of it is made by people who are criminals. As superintendent, you'd be suspect even of an anonymous tip.

If I were in your shoes, the most I'd be willing to do is go to the landlord...that is who you report to as superintendent, no? Don't raise accusations, but suspicions. Even be vague about what you're suspicious of. Even if it's just the locked door and the changes that they've made to the interior. Surely you can judge from his response whether or not he's involved. If he's involved, and you don't seem to know too much, he'll probably just tell you to leave it alone, let him handle it or something. You'd probably want to think about moving then.
posted by bigmike at 3:28 AM on December 27, 2005


You have no choice. Depending on where you live, failure to report a crime may be a crime. As the building superintendent, you have a responsibility to the building complex and everyone who calls it home.

Well, if it may be a crime, then he may have a choice, no? Of course, for all we know this guy lives in Indonesia or Singapore or Iran or something. But assuming he lives in the US, could you perhaps give a citation for what your saying? I mean, random internet poster legal advice is hardly the best, and I'm fairly certain that you're wrong. I've only ever heard of mandatory reporting requirements only exist for certain professions (like teachers reporting child abuse, doctors reporting driving impairing conditions, etc).

Does your local police station have an anonymous tip line / crime line? I've seen them in the UK and Canada. If so, use it. Why waste your time in court or at the police station? The grow-op already contains all the evidence the police need to get a conviction. Revealing your name or testifying in court is pointless, wastes your time and could lead to reprisal.

There is no way the police could get a valid search warrant based on an anonymous tip in the US. An anonymous tip won't do anything.

If you're really worried, you should contact a real lawyer to find out what your legal options and requirements are.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 AM on December 27, 2005


This sounds like it's right out of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Fantastic stuff, really...

It's obviously either bothering or exciting you. I think that discussing it with someone at your local precinct bears no real personal danger and will keep blatantly illegal and potential dangerous activity out of your building, which you are at least partially responsible for.

There is something to be said about your responsibility to the other tenants and it's generally a good bet to say things are safer when there isn't some form of organized crime being committed in your residence.
posted by disillusioned at 3:42 AM on December 27, 2005


Mostly good comments. Don't think anybody mentioned that there might be a hazard in calling the police from the police themselves. There are a significant number of cops who also are criminals, and the police in your neighborhood could well know about this situation already.
posted by bukvich at 4:38 AM on December 27, 2005


I would mind my own beeswax, but that's just me. I don't see how a pot growing operation would be considered dirty or compromise the safety of the residents of the complex. It's not a meth lab. Of course, the irrigation system could cause damage to the building, but that still wouldn't put anyone in danger.

But by entering the unit because you were "suspicious" to begin with, you opened a can of worms, and who knows if they have a surveillance system or are in cahoots with another resident who keeps an eye on the place and saw you entering the unit. If you mailed them a letter saying you would be entering their apartment, they're going to realize you were in there after the fact, which would either make them a) split, or b) hurt you (unlikely).

If you're dead set on turning them in, do it through an anonymous phone call or letter to the police.

Don't most urban pot growing operations get busted because the power company notices the astronomical electricity bill?
posted by Devils Slide at 4:38 AM on December 27, 2005


I don't see how a pot growing operation would be considered dirty or compromise the safety of the residents of the complex.

1) Grow lights, drawing too much current, overheating electrical circuts, starting fire.

2) Irrigation systems leaking, damaging building. Ditto the "skylights always being open, even in pouring rainstorms"

3) Fertilizers and pesticides, if used -- I'm a city boy, I don't grow anything, so I have no clue what might actually be used here, but I know they're used in many forms of farming, why not here?

4) Getting shot by eager policeman during a raid.
posted by eriko at 5:45 AM on December 27, 2005


Anonymous, regardless of your opinions on drugs, you don't want to live next to a large-scale illegal drug operation that may eventually involve people with guns shooting at other people with guns (cops vs growers, growers vs growers, growers vs sellers, showers vs growers, etc.). Never share a thin wall with a shooting gallery. Either you move or they move.

Also, your job (complex superintendent) probably requires you to inspect units thoroughly and report any odd discoveries, not to ignore what looks and smells like a large drug operation. You have been in the unit and ignored the signs but you have admitted as much here and perhaps elsewhere, so your job may already be threatened.

Assuming you don't want to (or can't) move out instead, you have to get rid of them. The only question is how to do it without getting yourself hurt.

They know you are the likeliest person to know about it, so turning them in, anonymously or not, is not safe.

Maybe warning them would be safer. How about sending an official note to all units advising residents that all rooms in all units have to be inspected starting on such-and-such a date (leaving the growers plenty of time to pack and go)? Do you have any official way to do something like that? Fire inspection? Electrical? Building code compliance or something like that?

Then go through with the inpection. If you can't get into the mystery room, give them plenty more warning that you do have to look in there, then go back again (with inspectors, if possible) after the time is up. And so on. But only if you can make it a part of some legal process you might be required to do anyway.
posted by pracowity at 5:49 AM on December 27, 2005


I'm with Afroblanca, let them know the jig is up.

I am almost always in favor of at least one warning to stop it, whatever it is, before lowering the boom.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:26 AM on December 27, 2005


If the original poster wanted to stop the growers without calling the cops and minimize personal risk, he could send them a note saying something to the effect of "We have received a complaint that your unit may be violating the rental contract and fire codes and will be conducting an inspection on (insert date here)."

On the other hand, anonymous may have a legal responsibility to alert the police, depending on what state/country they are located in.
posted by justkevin at 6:29 AM on December 27, 2005


There is no way the police could get a valid search warrant based on an anonymous tip in the US. An anonymous tip won't do anything.

That better be sarcastic! I wish I lived in your US. Unfortunately depending where you are, cops can enter the house based alone on smell, or electricity usage. I've had many laywers tell me this, if a cop wants to get into your house they will. That includes Mrs Busybody down the hall thinking you're growing weed on much less than this.

The ethics of this are quite clear. Large wattage lights should not be run on standard lines power lines in numbers a commercial grower will need, check overgrow.com. While most people growing weed are normal people, there's a percent that are naturally attracted to the outlaw aspect. I've never heard of anyone getting killed over a grow operatino (I'm sure the media would be all over that), but I wouldn't want to be on the bad side of a larger, nefarious organization. This may or may not be Joe and Sally Hippie, you just don't know. I'd be concerned with their really obvious behavior, to me it says fire safety is not top on their priority.

As others have stated we're not talking about a few plants in a closet. Look through security and legal on overgrow.com and notice how many sloppy people get busted on things such as this. I'm all for legalization, I'm not for wiring not done to code. If you had a legit reason to go into the apartment, call the police and tell them what you told us. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, talk to a lawyer to make sure you're not breaking any laws, so they can't come back later and bust you.
posted by geoff. at 6:58 AM on December 27, 2005


This is an issue that is way beyond the amateur night that we call askmefi. No one even knows what state you're in. I suggest you call NORML's legal hotline at 202-483-8751 and talk to them.
posted by skallas at 7:04 AM on December 27, 2005


This is an issue that is way beyond the amateur night that we call askmefi. No one even knows what state you're in. I suggest you call NORML's legal hotline at 202-483-8751 and talk to them.
posted by skallas at 7:04 AM PST on December 27 [!]


Yeah, because NORML's really going to tell you how to shut down someone's pot farm.

If you want it gone, call the cops. If you don't have the evidence, they can get it.
posted by cellphone at 7:24 AM on December 27, 2005


Your obligation is to your boss- the owner of the property. He's got tenants who are risking significant property damage. Talk to the owner, get his advice. I'm not going to advise you on the cops, as that's a highly contentious issue.

(Regarding Cartoon Network:) 40k customers? No way.

You clearly don't live in NYC. That wouldn't surprise me at all- everyone I know knew about those guys. I think they just got too big.
posted by mkultra at 7:26 AM on December 27, 2005


1) Grow lights, drawing too much current, overheating electrical circuts, starting fire.

Grow lights don't take that much electricity, a florescent tube uses about 80 watts. 10 of them would be 800 watts, and that's less electricity then most people use.

As far as fertilizer. Um, have you ever heard of miracle grow? You won't need pesticides if you're growing indoors.

That better be sarcastic! I wish I lived in your US. Unfortunately depending where you are, cops can enter the house based alone on smell, or electricity usage.

By "Valid" I mean one that won't get thrown out later.

Yeah, because NORML's really going to tell you how to shut down someone's pot farm.

Why not? I'm sure they'd rather see it shut down voluntarily then by the cops.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on December 27, 2005


You have very little hard evidence of anything. I can think of a dozen scenarios to explain what you've seen. The smell of "fresh marijuana" is highly subjective and easily mistaken for something else. At this time you have not witnessed a crime and you are liable for nothing. (I'm not sure what planet stringbean lives on, but I know of developed country in the world where the mere smelling of drugs is enough to trigger the liability criteria for witnesses and accomplices.)

If you don't own the property in question then you should inform the owner of the property in writing. Document your concerns. Make it clear that while you have witnessed no crimes, their modifications to the apartment and likely non-residency may indicate a violation of their lease. If the owner has any brains at all he will move to immediately, and quietly, evict them and they will go set up shop somewhere else. This whole thing can be settled peacefully and efficiently, and without the hassle of getting the cops involved and without letting it be known that your complex was involved in any sort of illegal activities. Notify the owner, in writing, and wash your hands off of it. It will take care of itself.

BTW, of course, do some research on landlord liability and the various 'rights and responsibilities' of landlords in your country/state. Your concern at this point shouldn't be your own criminal liability but quickly and quietly getting rid of the tenants.
posted by nixerman at 7:46 AM on December 27, 2005


Grow lights don't take that much electricity, a florescent tube uses about 80 watts. 10 of them would be 800 watts, and that's less electricity then most people use.

Fluoros? On a commercial grow? I doubt it, unless they're renting out an apartment for a few ounces. I thought the general rule of thumb was starting out with 6-10 plants at 400W -- which would be personal use. I don't grow so I could be wrong on the exact wattage, but take a look at a typical commerical grow:

8000watts and 48 plants. We're starting to get off on a derail here, but I think we need to establish that if they're renting this out to grow marijuana, they aren't doing it for personal use. And if they're not doing it for personal use they're going to want to maximize their return. Doing so would probably include illegal wiring, most likely beyond spec, as they look to be somewhat sloppy in the way they go about doing this. I mean keeping sky lights open? Leaving trimmings around? Come on.

And marijuana smell is grounds for a search, at least in Ohio and I wouldn't doubt in many other places. At the very least he has an obligation to tell his boss, and if his boss is in on it there's a much larger problem.
posted by geoff. at 7:55 AM on December 27, 2005


I hate to say it, but no matter what you do, the building the growing is going in on can be forfeited. And any other property they might want.

You should really pick up a copy of Drug Warriors and their Prey and read it before you decide what you need to do. It's gonna give you a better idea of your option.

Good luck man, be warned you are in a seriously bad situation and unfortunately what the law wants you to do may not be any better than alternatives, for you and yours.
posted by 31d1 at 8:03 AM on December 27, 2005


A note about the fire danger...(news junkie that I am, I know that) growops here in Vancouver are -often- caught because of fire, and that's usually due to electricity.

I also support decriminalization, but think you need to get this shut down. I -do not- suggest leaving them a note, because you do not know how badly these people will react. Sure, they could peacefully leave, but they could also invade your home, threaten and beat you, and try to get you to submit to their desire not to have you shut them down. Seriously not worth the risk. And 'anonymous' is rarely completely so.

Further, this is not a 'personal use' growing operation, and what you or I would consider rational may not be the case. They could be first-timers trying to make some retirement cash or some of the worst elements of organized crime. You seriously should not take changes.

Additionally, whose to say they will restrict themselves to pot? A small meth lab could be next, with potential for explosion and your own imminent danger.

I think your best bet is to make sure you speak to the police, and arrange with them not to be anywhere near the place when they bust this.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:08 AM on December 27, 2005


make that "you should not take chances"
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:12 AM on December 27, 2005


There is no way the police could get a valid search warrant based on an anonymous tip in the US. An anonymous tip won't do anything.

I work in the criminal justice system, and I can tell you that valid search warrants are issued based soley on anonymous tips all the time. Your position as the superintendent, the fact that you're not a known criminal (presumably), and that you have nothing to gain by giving the tip, makes your tip even more reliable.
posted by elquien at 8:17 AM on December 27, 2005


You can inform the tenants of your suspicions and ask to inspect the apartment.
posted by scarabic at 8:25 AM on December 27, 2005


Please call a lawyer who knows about this kind of thing.

This is not a job for you or the Internet Superfriends.
posted by Marnie at 8:33 AM on December 27, 2005


Please advise whoever employs you as superintendent and consult a lawyer before you do ANYTHING. You may be dealing with people who have a significant amount of money and their freedom at stake. People with those things at risk can be very dangerous. This is in addition to the possibility that you may bare some responsibility. At the very least you have the responsibility of informing your employer.
posted by Carbolic at 8:35 AM on December 27, 2005


It's a condo. The unit might be confiscated, but not the whole building (unless they are standalone condo units). The landlord may lose his property, but the neighbors won't unless they participate in the enterprise.

go to the landlord...that is who you report to as superintendent, no?

No, that would be the condo association board of directors (or trustees, or whatever). Go to their chairman, and report what you found. Then stay away.

I used to live in a condo, and was on the BOD. I would not let this continue, because there are no benefits for the residents (other than the growers), and numerous serious disadvantages.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:40 AM on December 27, 2005


Yeah, no reason not to talk to a real lawyer if you're worried about your legal responsibilities.
posted by delmoi at 8:51 AM on December 27, 2005


As superintendent you have a fundamental responsibility to protect the safety of the other residents, and also to secure the property value of their investment. You cannot allow a criminal organization to gain a foothold in your building. There's just no middle ground here. The fact that they've been operating there for a year now means that they are not in this for just one growth cycle, but that it's an ongoing operation. It doesn't matter whether it's a pot farm or a meth lab; they've introduced a very dangerous element into a presumably safe residential area, precisely because that's their cover. Are there families with children living there? These are the people they are trying to hide behind. No amount of rationalization about how pot "isn't such a big deal" can change these facts. Being coy about dealing with this can only weaken your position.
posted by gallois at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2005


1. Pretend you know nothing. Are you good with suspense?

2. Send the cops an anonymous letter citing marijuana smell. They'll get a warrant and look around. Finito.

I'd probably go with 2. I'm not good with suspense. And what's the downside? Sounds like the grower has established a "disposable" grow site. They'll take the loss and move on, I'd expect.

Good luck.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:03 AM on December 27, 2005


Marijuana fire in Philly led to homicide charges.
posted by sixpack at 9:11 AM on December 27, 2005


geoff.: While most people growing weed are normal people, there's a percent that are naturally attracted to the outlaw aspect. I've never heard of anyone getting killed over a grow operatino (I'm sure the media would be all over that)

Data point: Mayerthorpe, Alberta, Canada where on 3 March 2005, four RCMP officers were gunned down. The subhuman perpetrator had a rather lengthy previous rap sheet and was a tad unbalanced, echoing the 'outlaw aspect' from geoff.'s comment.

For anonymous, I might worry less about a hail of gunfire and more about water and mold damage to that suite and its neighbours, and the fire hazard. Open skylights during rainstorms? That's gotta stop right away.
posted by hangashore at 9:31 AM on December 27, 2005


You owe no consideration to the growers. Did they show you or the other residents any consideration before putting you at risk for the sake of their profit?

I think the idea that these people would resort to violence to avoid or avenge the loss of a disposable part of their operation to the authorities is pure fantasy.

Your risks from tipping off the authorities are probably pretty low, nevertheless, it's worth doing anonymously. I'd tip off both local and federal authorities separately.

They may well have a cache of weapons, but they are probably reserved for defending the operation against incursion by competitors and other criminal operators who try to rob them of either product or collected revenue.
posted by Good Brain at 9:37 AM on December 27, 2005


This is easy. Go to the cops... that's what they're there for. Even when I was smoking weed every day (going on 10 years ago now), I didn't let the guy on the third floor of my building (a three-level "house" with one apartment on eaach floor) get away with running a pretty large scale operation. I wasn't comfortable with it at all. I didn't like all the people coming and going at all hours and I couldn't stand the possibility of somehow getting tied into the whole thing if the shit hit the fan. So I narced. Oh well. Sorry. I'm not trying to make life miserable for other people... but I can't let mine be miserable just to keep the guy out of trouble.
posted by Witty at 9:38 AM on December 27, 2005


After reading some more comments on this thread, I would say yeah, go ahead and talk to a lawyer. Can't hurt.

However, my guess is that you aren't obligated to call the cops. Actually, I like pracowity's idea about inspecting ALL appartments. Seems like a good plan.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2005


Kickstart70 writes "about the fire danger...(news junkie that I am, I know that) growops here in Vancouver are -often- caught because of fire, and that's usually due to electricity."

The only reason that they caught the guy three doors down from my house in BC is because the fire department was called out to extinguish the blaze started by stealing hydro.
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on December 27, 2005


I think it's a bad idea to choose anything that requires you to contact the tenants in any way, face to face, phone call, email, "friendly" note... and I definitely wouldn't choose any option that requires you to enter the apartment ever, for any reason. That's nuts.

Just go to the cops and let them handle it.
posted by Witty at 10:48 AM on December 27, 2005


Please call a lawyer who knows about this kind of thing.

This is not a job for you or the Internet Superfriends.


fuckin' seconded. there is way too much supposition in this thread.

i'll add these two things:

grow-ops DO burn down -- one burned down near my work in SF a few years ago*. The entire warehouse was gutted. from the other anecdotal evidence in this thread, it appears this is not an unusual situation

being on the wrong side of someone getting busted is not a good situation, even if you (or a bunch of internet dudes) think that this person is some sort of tokin' vegan jesus.**

find a way to make sure that you and yours are safe without getting too involved.

* one of the garbage bags the growers had used to cover the windows fell on a grow light and ignited. the entire neighborhood smelled of weed one afternoon, and that evening, it made all the news reports.

posted by fishfucker at 10:48 AM on December 27, 2005


You know, I don't like gun-toting gansters any more then anybody else, but you guys need to be reasonable.

Say the grower gets some sort of warning - either an anonymous note saying, "Hey, you might want to shut down your 'op, people are starting to talk," or a letter from their super informing them that "all units need to be checked for smoke alarms in the next two weeks."

Now, the grower is going to have two options :

A) Shut down the 'op, cut their losses, get the fuck out of Dodge
B) Start shooting at people. Granted, with this option, they still have to take down their 'op, but they'll also have a murder rap on their hands as well as a rather inconvenient body to dispose of.

Let's say worst case scenario, these people are killing machines that, for some reason, decided to get into reefer. Do you really think that they would choose to kill someone when they don't have to?

I'm not saying that all growers are saints, or even that they are all nice people. However, I think it's safe to assume that they're more-or-less rational creatures who have their own self-preservation in mind.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:56 AM on December 27, 2005


So what are you proposing then Afroblanco? I mean, I can't believe that anyone would suggest ANYTHING other than going to the cops... or just not doing anything at all.
posted by Witty at 11:05 AM on December 27, 2005


Let's say worst case scenario, these people are killing machines that, for some reason, decided to get into reefer. Do you really think that they would choose to kill someone when they don't have to?

There are things that drug dealers can do to make your life unpleasant far short of shooting you. Christ, the idea that everyone who sells pot or runs a growhouse is always some laid back, peaceful dude is the stuff of fantasy. It's a money making operation, and you have to realize that they will go to reasonable lengths to protect their investment. Do you really want to find out what those lengths are? Do you really want to test those waters?

That's all anyone is saying.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2005


Once again, my question was this - are you obligated to report things that you suspect to the police?

Depends on where you are, Chilliwack BC has a grow-op by-law that requires landlords to do inspections on rental properties for this very thing. Apparently other cities have thought this was a nifty idea and plan to implement similar by-laws. Also a lot of cities are now passing the cost of policing, fire fighting and investigations onto the home owner if it is found that there was a grow-op. Not to mention possible repercussions in the event of, say, a fire (or flood or mould), the insurance company just might not pay up if it is shown the grow op was the source of the damage. I'm thinking the same as cribcage. You need to talk to a lawyer, too many, "what ifs" and since we don't know where you are on the big ol' blue marble there is no way to give more accurate legal information.

Or call crime stoppers from a payphone as suggested previously and leave a tip. Or might try calling the electric supply company - there are some companies that have teams that deal with kinds of complaints and can get the ball rolling for you. Or you could just say screw it and phone the police.
posted by squeak at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2005


This is not a job for you or the Internet Superfriends.

Thirded.

Reading through five more pages of speculation as to who the alleged growers are, what their motivations might be, and how they might react to any sort of confrontation will get you nowhere. Following advice about clever or devious ways to address the situation might get you seriously hurt.

You need to talk to someone with real expertise about your situation in your location. This may be a lawyer. It may be the cops. It may be someone at a tenants'/homeowners' rights organization. Its not the Internet Superfirends.

Good luck.
posted by googly at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2005


Its not the Internet Superfriends, either.
posted by googly at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2005


Please talk to a lawyer BEFORE you go to the cops. With all the forfeiture laws being implemented in many flavors and varieties you need to make sure you identify whether there is a process or steps that need to be taken to protect the property owners. Condos or not, there is the possibility that something could affect the owners of the other units.
posted by Carbolic at 12:01 PM on December 27, 2005


Witty, going to the cops is likely not his best option. He has witnessed no crime, has no tangible evidence of a crime, and, at this point, is operating on little more than his own suspicions. More importantly, consider what may happen if there is indeed an illegal operation on the property. Who wants to sit down to their morning breakfast, open the newspaper, and learn that the police seized millions of dollars of marijuana in the unit across the hall? What would be the consequences for the general sense of well-being? How would the real-estate values of the properties be affected? What sort of impressions would it give to propspective buyers? What about the next people to move into that unit? And do you think there is no danger to the surrounding tenants associated with a police investigation and/or a bust? What happens if somebody is killed in the unit? What if the property itself is seized and is lost in the bureaucracy of forfeiture? What makes you even think the cops will shutdown the growers right away? If it becomes the subject of an active investigation the cops might allow it to continue operating for months, if not years.

In most of the US, there is still a strong scorched-earth/body-count mentality when it comes to drugs on the part of the police. Narcotics investigations often become pretty messy affairs. The main objective of the cops is to catch criminals. anonymous' main objective is to get rid of these suspicious tenants as quickly and as quietly as possible. A little common sense will demonstrate that not only are these objectives not identical, but involving the cops will likely void both the 'quickly' and 'quietly' criteria. Notification of the property owner, in writing, is enough to prompt a quick eviction most of the time. This is where anonymous' responsibilities begin and end.
posted by nixerman at 12:09 PM on December 27, 2005


I'm with afroblanca. An inocuous "we will be checking smoke alarms" notice on everybody's door will send the message you want, with no unnecessary involvement on your part. The growers want to grow in a place that is relatively unattended, where they won't be bothered. This sends the message that your building is not that place. Ideally they will pack up and find somewhere else.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:25 PM on December 27, 2005


Going to the cops is probably the only right answer.

I still think I would put an out a general announcement that Fire Alarm inspections are going to take place in 2 weeks time. If they are not out in 2 weeks then you call the police because these people are so stupid they are dangerous.

It seems like a more elegant solution since he has not been threatened or seen any threatening behavior, to warn them indirectly and let the problem leave the premises.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 12:58 PM on December 27, 2005


I think half of the people here have watched far too many episodes of "Scooby Doo". You know, those episodes where they come up with some cunning plan to foil the villains and they are all "duh, if it weren't for you pesky kids!".

I am pro-legalization etc etc, but anyone suggesting a solution that does not involve the police need to get a fucking grip. In Vancouver it is estimated that 10% of grow-ops that are busted contain weapons of some sort, increasingly guns and that is in *Canada* FFS.

I can only speak from the point of view of being on a Strata Council (canadian equivalent of an HOA) - but advice from management companies to strata councils & condo owners is quite clear - if you suspect there may be a grow-op in your building, contact the police - it is their job to deal with this, not yours. If there really is a grow-op there, worrying about how might affect property values is kind of academic.

Anonymous doesn't say how the reporting structure works here - but I am assuming the HOA employs a management company and the management company pays him/her to be the super. In that position I would contact both my supervisor at the management company and the head of the HOA and tell them what I know (including how I know*) It would then be their responsibility to call the police - and in the unlikely event that they were unwilling to do that then I would do it myself.

* the "how you know" part is interesting. If your entering the suite was within the rules of the condo bylaws then you are set. If not, what's your excuse?

That said, I agree with everyone who said this is the wrong forum, talk to a lawyer etc. But it's wishful thinking in the extereme to believe that they won't suggest involving the police.
posted by pascal at 12:58 PM on December 27, 2005


You may be very helpful by signalling police or care department that there is somebody inside for days, not answering and most probably in need of help....
posted by vieuxmaitres at 1:29 PM on December 27, 2005


I can't believe that anyone would suggest ANYTHING other than going to the cops... or just not doing anything at all.

Why not? Dude needs to look out for his building, but he may not have an interest in helping enforce drug policy. Calmly urging the perpetrators to move on is a reasonable suggestion.
posted by scarabic at 1:46 PM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanco - What the hell? Are you just in this thread to argue?

Anonymous - Get a quarter, find a payphone, and call the anonymous tip hotline for your municipality.

If you're feeling fancy and you think the growers aren't going to find out who tipped them off, then call the cops and try and work something out with them, after calling a lawyer and telling him what you know.
posted by bshort at 2:52 PM on December 27, 2005


And Pascal is entirely correct: the cops are there to deal with this sort of thing. It's not up to you to come up with some sort of cunning plan.

Also, make sure you have your story straight, and a reasonable alibi for going in the apartment in the first place.
posted by bshort at 2:56 PM on December 27, 2005


What about shutting off power to their apartment? Should kill the plants in a couple days.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on December 27, 2005


Also, make sure you have your story straight, and a reasonable alibi for going in the apartment in the first place.

That's not really important.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on December 27, 2005


nixerman: He said he saw leaves on the floor outside the locked room. I'm assuming he meant pot leaves, in which case, duh, he's seen evidence. No one smokes big 'ole leaves
posted by delmoi at 3:17 PM on December 27, 2005


I think you should say nothing to anybody about what I see as a victimless crime that should not be illegal; I don't even think you should have posted this. In this instance I can't see how your neighbors' indoor gardening interferes with your ability to live your life so you should mind your own business, and please don't say "It bothers me to know!" when you should not have snooped in the first place. E.g., some of your sexual practices might offend me but it somehow seems wrong to put a videocam in your ductwork to find out for sure, you know what I mean? Then too, "Gentlemen do not read one another's mail."

Who needs a damn gestapo if people snitch on each other for stuff like this? We're not talking about Satanic Ritual Child Abuse, for pete's sake.
posted by davy at 3:28 PM on December 27, 2005


No, we're talking about renting an apartment under presumably false pretenses, possibly running more electrical devices than are safe, and putting the owner and the apartment manager (and possibly the superintendent) in a legal quandary.

Maybe growing marijuana shouldn't be illegal, but it is, and there's a whole host of legal ramifications that the poster is asking about.
posted by bshort at 3:40 PM on December 27, 2005


davy, you need a reality check and some experience in what really goes on in growops.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:09 PM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanco - What the hell? Are you just in this thread to argue?

No.

I don't think that it is morally wrong to grow pot. The US has absurdly draconian drug laws. Anyone caught growing pot can go to prison for a very long time. I would never reccomend sending someone to prison for something that I don't feel is morally wrong.

Thus, I'm trying to help anonymous find ways to resolve their situation without going to the police.

Any other questions?
posted by Afroblanco at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2005


In the USA you are not required to report crime. However, you may get in trouble with the complex for not reporting it. Davy, I think that's what the problem is. You want to find out what the board wants to do. I suspect they would like the growers to leave but not to call the cops.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:47 PM on December 27, 2005


It may not be morally wrong, but it's certainly illegal.
posted by bshort at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2005


when you should not have snooped in the first place.
Since when does the superintendant of the building doing his job and inspecting the safety equipment consitute snooping?

And what planet are you on that you think grow rooms do not present a fire hazard to the rest of the building? What part of "large amounts of high wattage halogen lamps left on continuously and unattended, combined with automated watering systems" doesn't scream fire hazard?
posted by Rhomboid at 4:51 PM on December 27, 2005


It may not be morally wrong, but it's certainly illegal.

Nobody is arguing that.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:53 PM on December 27, 2005


Even if you are against pot prohibition, current ops, certainly the larger ones, is run by criminals. Don't conflate sympathy for the activity with sympathy for the actors.
posted by Gyan at 4:55 PM on December 27, 2005


[Please keep the debating and kibbitzing to a minimum. Anonymous asked five questions and can't follow-up particularly easily. If you don't have any information or opinion that helps address those questions, please take it to the MetaTalk thread already in progress, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:59 PM on December 27, 2005


Re-reading this (very repetitive) thread, I came to one thought that I didn't see above: the windows being left open, and perhaps the junk in the hallway, may indicate that the location is already abandoned (hastily). Alternatively, the skylight situation might even suggest that key personnel are in jail or, shall we say, scarce.

Anyway, as a landlord and a community activist (we had drug dealers shooting at each other the last two summers), I say get that shit the hell out of there -- even if you think personal use is fine, and I pretty much do, I don't want the dodgy foot traffic and the turf wars, and absolutely not on property that I own or manage. I have a responsibility to my neighbors and my other tenants that comes before someone breaking the law at the felony level.

How you do this is up to you, but it sure wouldn't hurt in your position to cultivate some contacts at the police.
posted by dhartung at 10:49 PM on December 27, 2005


Please note, it is not unusual for someone to be in the condo during the entire growing period. This person would never leave and may have zero contact with the outside. I know about this because I once knew a professional grower. This person is supplied for the period involved.

The fact you saw leaves all over suggests a harvest has taken place. I don't recall the time between harvests given modern cloning techniques which speed production. The grower would be most amenable to shutting down at the conclusion of a harvest (this would be on the order of 2-3 month intervals).

I would point out to anonymous that a plant takes about 4 square feet. You probably can make a good estimate of the potential number of plants. I question how 'commercial' this operation may be in an apartment.

If you want to gain an idea of their growing schedule, monitor their power consumption. If the power usage is strong less than 12 hours a day, then they are working towards a harvest (developing flower buds). Over 12 hours, the plants are involved in vegetative growth.
posted by Goofyy at 12:10 AM on December 28, 2005


I say, shut it down. A commercial growing operation should not be done in a residential apartment building.

Most likely, it is not dangerous in terms of violence and mafia, but you can't be too careful when you're talking about WHERE YOU LIVE.

There are many different people who could've ratted out the operation, from meter readers to postmen, to passersby who sniff the weed.

Of course, anonymity is not assured, so always be careful in how you approach the authorities.
posted by cell divide at 12:29 AM on December 28, 2005


Ask the Fire Department if they will inspect the fire alarms in ALL the units. They probably will. Post a notice saying the inspection will happen, and on what date. If the growers see the notice and clear out - problem solved, at least temporarily. If they don't, and the firemen see the leaves, locked room, etc. They will call the cops, guaranteed. Anon then looks uninvolved. Once again, problem solved.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:17 AM on December 28, 2005


He has witnessed no crime, has no tangible evidence of a crime, and, at this point, is operating on little more than his own suspicions.

So what? I didn't witness my neighbor knocking the front teeth out of his girlfriend's mouth either. I had no evidence that he did it or was evening doing it at the time. But it was my SUSPICION the he (or someone for that matter) was beatin' the shit out of her when I called the cops.

"Hey, I have good reason to believe there's some domestic violence a goin' down in the unit across the hall. Can you come check it out?"

"Good evening officer. I think I saw someone creeping around behind my house... seems a bit suspicious. Can you come check it out please?"
posted by Witty at 7:36 AM on December 28, 2005


Since when does the superintendant of the building doing his job and inspecting the safety equipment consitute snooping?

For reasons already stated in the related Meta Thread, I find Anonymous's back story here very suspicious. You don't let yourself into units to conduct yearly inspections without permission. There was no emergency to provide a plasuible cover story for Anonymous's illegal entry. You have to have express permission to enter a unit if there is no emergency.

Did my entering their unit compromise the evidence?

I am not a lawyer but I would think there is an argument to be made that you did.

I have dealt with this situation in an apartment building--a guy broke up with his girlfriend and got socked forthwith with child support payments, so he went to Alaska to work on a fishing boat while he sublet his apartment to a friend.

Inside two months, the smell was overwhelming. And I was getting calls from the police about a person staying at that apartment whose I did not recognize. It was not the name of the hapless original renter or the grower. I knocked on the guy's door, mentioned the smell and the phone calls from the police and what I thought would happen if the police came out looking for anyone and smelled what everyone else could smell. The subletting grower up and moved out in a week.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 AM on December 28, 2005


1) GET A LAWYER.
2) Listen to Nixerman. Your goals are quick and quiet exodos. Calling the police accomplishes neither.

While commercial growers will take reasonable lengths to protect their investment, most of htem realize that murder is more expensive than losing plants. A round of sprinkler inspections may be in order.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 AM on December 28, 2005


On many topics y2karl is very knowledgeable. On this topic he is not. He has quoted Washington state law elsewhere so I include this quote from the Tenants Union of Washington State regarding tenant privacy rights.

"A landlord must give 48 hours advance notice to a tenant if the landlord wants to enter to do work or an inspection.

"If the landlord leaves a note on the door or a message on the tenant’s answering machine this is adequate notice to enter. If the tenant doesn’t contact the landlord and say “no”, it means “yes”."

Note that explicit permission is not required. Without any evidence to the contrary, I am willing to take the questioner's word. As he stated, the tenant doesn't show up for weeks at a time. I believe the entry was legal if notice was given.
posted by JackFlash at 5:21 PM on December 28, 2005


" What about shutting off power to their apartment? Should kill the plants in a couple days."

Many grow ops in apartments are stealing the power they require from common curcuits that service things like hall lights and elevators.
posted by Mitheral at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2005


Thinking about it more, I suppose there is a good chance the landlord could have his property ceased even if he wasn't involved. It's definetly a possibility to consider.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 AM on December 29, 2005


An article on today's sfgate.com answers the poster's question in no uncertain terms:
"It's important for residents to notify police whenever there's any type of suspicious activity in their residence such as heavy traffic in and out,' Oropeza said, "Also, if there is equipment being carried in and out in the late evening hours at residences,' police should be alerted.

Residents that suspect such suspicious activity in their own neighborhoods are urged to call the Police Department's narcotics division at (415) 970-3000 or the confidential tip line at (415) 575-4444 to remain anonymous.

The original article: More than 250 pot plants found after SF house fire.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:46 PM on February 5, 2006


if the growing operation is worth its fertilizer, no one will be "busted" unless they are caught red-handed in a sting. but the cops will probably just pursue the warrant and find evidence, but no one to pin it to.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2006


People like this are all about flying under the radar. They are not going to mess with you - living right next to their grow operation - and bring every cop in town around. They might as well send up signal flares. I'd leave the note telling them to shut it down and move out. They will probably be thankful, but even if they are not, they last thing they'll want to do is attraction any more attention than they already have. Messing with you would do just that.

I have no faith in the US criminal justice system. You'd be called as a witness to any trial - and how would you like to sit across a courtroom from these people. Now - not only have they been arrested on a count of you - they are pissed - and know who you are and where you live. At THAT point, I'd be worried. I wouldn't put it past the DA to botch the case - it happens all the time. Now they're out on the street - out of a grow operation - and they're not happy with you. A bad combination.

Prohibition is the real reason this is a problem for you. It's what drives people to build these clandestine operations. After they move out - send a small donation to NORML - and call it square.
posted by Mattydread at 1:27 PM on July 26, 2006


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