The odor of marijuana hung in the waiting area outside the U.S. District Court room Tuesday during the first day of a felony trial in which two local men stand accused of funneling pot grown under the state medical marijuana law into the black market.
Several boxes, bags and plastic totes bulging with marijuana were stacked just outside the door of the courtroom, waiting for Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong to fetch them and lodge them into evidence against Brian Wayne Simmons and Michael Scott Grantski.
Simmons is the owner of Brian's Green Thumb Farm, the property that Drug Enforcement Administration and local officers raided on East Gregory Road last October. Grantski is accused of making a profit off maintaining the plants found on the farm.
Several DEA agents were called to testify Tuesday. They talked of descending on the Central Point farm in the early morning of Oct. 5, 2011.
They testified that several rooms inside the home contained digital scales and financial documents that suggested the farm was being used to generate profit as well as provide medicine for Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients.
In all, DEA agents photographed 455 large marijuana plants growing at the site. They seized the plants and found 2,000 pounds of semi-dry marijuana in a barn, court affidavits state. Afterward, agents dried the marijuana and found that it weighed 1,022 pounds.
Fong showed images of marijuana weighing down drying racks inside a barn on the property.
This marijuana was later stuffed into 50-gallon trash bags and piled outside the barn.
As Fong placed the items into evidence, the jury was handed large bags of marijuana, bowls used for cleaning and storing the product and other items used in the trade.
Fong was attempting to show that the sheer amount of marijuana found on the property far exceeded the amount allowed to the defendants under the OMMP law.
DEA Special Agent Clark Wheeler said he found small plastic bags marked "10 K," which he thought were intended to hold $10,000 in cash.
"From my training, markings like this lead me to believe that these bags are meant to hold currency," Wheeler said.
However, the defendants' lawyers picked at Wheeler's testimony. He told them that no money had been found inside the bags and the only currency he found in the farm's office was inside a cash register.
There was $11,300 in cash found at another property believed to be tied to the group. This money was found at the Medford home of Mike Reed Peru. According to a court affidavit, Peru told police that he provided financial advice and consulted with Simmons on his medical marijuana garden.
Peru, 70, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess 100 or more marijuana plants.
Agents dug into Peru's bank accounts and found several large cash and check deposits made between October 2010 and October 2011. The deposits range from $3,000 to $44,500, court documents show. The DEA believes these deposits are proceeds from illegal marijuana sales.
The trial will continue today.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or mailtribune.com.