LAKE COUNTY – A Lake County man and woman ran afoul of the the rules around medical marijuana and are facing prosecution as drug dealers.
The California medical marijuana laws allow a person to grow and process cannabis for him or herself as long as they are authorized patients with a prescription for medicinal use pot. Recognizing that not everyone qualified has the means to produce their own marijuana, the law allows co-operatives or collectives to produce and share processed marijuana strictly on a non-profit basis. People receiving the drug supply must belong to the group – retail sales and walk in customers are not allowed – and the provider can only charge enough to cover expenses. It appears that Bobby Rex Goforth, 57 of Clearlake Oaks, and Joy Alice Emry, 53 of Lakeport, pushed the rules way beyond the limits of acceptability.
According to Steve Brooks of the Lake Sheriff’s office, on Friday, June 6 at 10:18 am, narcotics detectives served a search warrant at a property on Gross Road in the rural southern part of Kelsyville, a small town to the southeast of Clear Lake. They met up with Goforth and Emry there. The two said they were growing marijuana for a store front co-op. There are 17 members, they explained, who each pay $100 a month to cover their labor and expenses for the four pounds of marijuana they receive monthly. Anything harvested beyond that would be sold to members out of the store front. Goforth told them he had 300 plants, but was not aware of any county code that set a maximum on the number that could be grown.
Lake County rules governing marijuana growth for medical use set a limit of 48 mature plants, or 96 immature plants on 20 acre outdoor parcels. Smaller parcels are limited to six mature or twelve immature plants, and on less than an acre, none is permitted. Indoor grows are limited to 100 square feet with 1200 watts of power. So on Goforth’s word alone, they were already well in excess of the allowed amount, but it got worse. There are three large hoop style greenhouses on the property, and detectives counted 653 plants, which they proceeded to eradicate. A search of Goforth’s vehicle also turned up $8,590.00 in cash, the equivalent of 5 months membership dues for the 17 co-op members.
Investigation further revealed, through electrical bills, three other properties Gorforth was at least connected to, in Lakeport on Martin Street and Eickhoff Road, and in Lower Lake on Diener Circle. The secured two of the properties and requested search warrants for both, and proceeded that same day when the warrants were both granted.
At Diener Circle, located in the wooded hills south of Lower Lake, detectives located what looked like the main operation of Goforth and Emry’s supposed co-op business. The property held ten hoop style greenhouses filled with marijuana plants in various stages of growth. There was also an indoor grow set up in the house’s garage. A total of 2,713 plants were counted and eradicated. There were also 60 pounds of processed marijuana on the premises. But the heart of the operation may have been the butane hash lab set up, which was used to created concentrated cannabis, or honey oil, at the property. 7 pounds of the thick liquid concentrated marijuana was found and seized. (Butane honey oil labs are extremely dangerous, and have caused numerous explosions, fires and deadly burns on people trying to control them.) Another $42,190.00 in cash was also found in the search, and collected along with the other evidence.
They proceeded on to the 1500 block of Martin Street in Lakeport, where Emry resides. On the rural property, they located both a large indoor marijuana grow with 741 plants, and two more hoop greenhouses with 333 flowering marijuana plants. Another 90 plants were growing in flower pots on the property, for a total of 1,164 plants counted and eradicated. There were also two handguns and three rifles in the home, which were taken as evidence in the investigation.
Continuing the investigation the following week, the detectives turned their attention to the other Lakeport property on Eickhoff Road in north west Lakeport, in the hills near Hidden Lake. On Tuesday, June 10 at 1:26 pm, they served a new search warrant for that property. They found three hoop greenhouses, but only 17 plants growing in one of them. Another 83 were growing outside however, and there was also ten pounds of processed marijuana found from the apparently harvested plants from the now empty greenhouses. Perhaps as part of the same investigation, or simply coincidental, narcotics detectives also arrested two other men on marijuana growing charges at a neighboring property.
On the same Tuesday afternoon at another property on Eickhoff Road, detectives arrested Wade Aaron Knowles, 44, and Aldo Clolosaro, 65, when they served a warrant at that location at 1:30 in the afternoon. They had two hoop style greenhouses with potted marijuana growing, and other plants outside. 85 total plants were eradicated from this property. The inside of the house was set up as a processing plant, with drying marijuana hanging in the room, and vacuum sealing and packaging material. They found evidence that marijuana was being mailed to locations on the east coast of the United States. Phones with text messages related to narcotics sales were also seized as evidence. Both men were arrested for cultivation and possession of marijuana for sales. It is not clear if these neighbors of Goforth shared tips and information about successful marijuana cultivation, though they both ran what appeared to be very sophisticated and successful operations, at least until now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Goforth was arrested for cultivating marijuana on June 6, when his first property was searched. He was also charged with possession of marijuana for sale and manufacturing a controlled substance (honey oil.) He was released on $130,00 bail with a court date of July 15. Goforth had a similar arrest in 2012 in Petrolia a small town in Humboldt County, when he was charged with selling marijuana or hashish, cultivation of marijuana, and possession of concentrated cannabis.
Joy Emry, who is a local real estate agent in addition to her involvement with the marijuana co-op, was not arrested, but the information and evidence was sent to the District Attorney’s office for review and potential indictment on the same or similar charges Goforth is facing.
Apart from eradicating all of the marijuana growing at the five properties, detectives seized the remaining evidence, including the $50,780.00 cash found at the two locations. Those funds are being held and are subject to asset forfeiture proceedings if they are proven to be proceeds from illegal narcotics sales.