KELSEYVILLE, LAKE COUNTY – Under California’s medical marijuana laws, a certain amount of cannabis can now be raised to provide the relief giving dosages to those who need it and have been prescribed and authorized. If not growing the plants for themselves, people can join a collective that grows it for the group and distributes it in a non-profit way to benefit the members who need it to relieve their symptoms and enjoy life. However, as recent stories have shown, some regard the law as an opening of flood gates allowing them to grow and process as much marijuana as they want, as long as they call it medical. They are either ignorant of the details of the fairly strict rules, or just hoping they won’t get caught.
Law enforcement, such as the Lake County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force, are hoping to put an end to illegal narcotics growing and trafficking. While tolerating the growers following the rules and guidelines, they are cracking down on the ones who push it too far. According to Steve Brooks of the Sheriffs office, a search warrant resulted in the arrest of two men last Thursday, who didn’t seem to know much about anything, despite the sophisticated growing operation they had going.
On Thursday morning, June 12 at 7:35 am, detectives arrived at the property on Smith Ranch Road in rural south east Kelseyville along Highway 29. Driving past the vineyard that fronts the property along the highway, they found roommates Ryan Christopher Agler, 28, and Joseph Paxton Kestler, 30, and detained both men while they searched the property. Back behind the home and trees in the orchard, they located a hoop-style greenhouse where they counted 105 growing marijuana plants, already exceeding the 48 allowed on a 20 acre property (for medical growers.) Another 55 plants were being grown in planters outside on the hillside.
Besides the healthy and prospering plants outside, another sign of the success of their operation was the 520 pounds of processed marijuana found inside the house and residence, stored in plastic bins and large trash bags. In the room identified as Agler’s bedroom, they also found a few Methadone and Hydromorphone pills, both opioids that are listed as controlled substances.
When interviewed by the detectives, Agler offered up a few vague answers. He told them he was the grower for a medical marijuana collective, but wasn’t sure how much he was getting paid for it. And he didn’t remember how much he was paying to rent the property he and Kestler were living and working on. When asked about the large quantity of processed marijuana on hand, he told them he just bags it up and leaves it “lying around”. He couldn’t tell them what he was planning to do with such a large amount.
Both Agler and Kestler were arrested and booked at the Hill Road Correctional Facility on charges of possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana. Agler had the additional charge of possession of a controlled substance. In previous run-ins with the law, Agler was arrested in December 2012 for a DUI, and in October 2013 for possession of a small amount of marijuana, an open container in a vehicle, and probation violation. Meanwhile, the bumper crop of marijuana growing on the property was eradicated.