DRACUT -- A 58-year-old Watertown man and a 34-year-old Norfolk man will face marijuana-cultivation charges after Dracut police found an "elaborate" grow room containing 228 plants in a Lakeview Avenue commercial building.
Stephen Gay of Watertown and Jason Krouk of Norfolk will be summonsed to Lowell District Court to face a single count of manufacturing and cultivating marijuana with intent to distribute, according to Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand.
While possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense, cultivating it remains a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of up to two years in jail. Neither man was arrested. They will be arraigned at a date yet to be determined.
Gay and Krouk declined to comment when reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon. They did not say whether they have hired attorneys.
Chartrand said police received anonymous tips in December about a "strong smell of marijuana" coming from the second floor of 1949 Lakeview Ave. Tipsters also said they "noticed lights constantly illuminating the unit," owned by Lee Dove Productions, according to Chartrand.
Detectives visited the building, noticed the odor near a loading dock, and interviewed other occupants of the multiunit commercial building, Chartrand said.
When detectives researched Lee Dove Productions, they learned the company produces films such as A Doper's Guide to Amsterdam.
Lee Dove Productions' website describes the film as "the DVD to see if you are thinking about going to Amsterdam to smoke!"
On Dec. 13, State Trooper Brian Bonia and his dog Maximus visited the building and identified "the presence of narcotics" near the building's rear loading dock, Chartrand said.
Police then got a search warrant and discovered an "elaborate marijuana grow system" in the unit, Chartrand said.
Police found 228 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, along with heat lamps, plant food, power inverters and a carbon-dioxide generator, among other items, according to Chartrand.
Gay, who identified himself as the owner of Lee Dove Productions, told detectives he rented the unit last May to grow marijuana, and that he spent about $24,000 on materials and equipment to do so, Chartrand said.
"Gay stated this was his first major marijuana grow, and he had learned how to do it from the Internet and trial and error," Chartrand said in a prepared statement. "Gay provided the detectives with an in-depth explanation as to the cultivation process."
Gay told police he hired Krouk to help him with the growing operation, according to Chartrand.
Chartrand said each of the 228 plants would have produced an estimated 2 ounces of high-grade marijuana, with a street value of about $85,000.
A short biography of Gay on the website for Lee Dove Productions describes him as a lifelong photographer who has spent more than two decades producing work that appeared "on all of the major TV networks and many local stations -- more than 10,000 shows and videos in total."
The biography says Gay also teaches television and video production, though it does not identify where he teaches.
The website for Lee Dove Productions makes little mention of marijuana. The description of one of the company's films, Question Freedom, briefly touches on marijuana.
"The manner in which the Amsterdamers handle the question of marijuana speaks to a deep understanding of human needs and wants and the phrase 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' " the description of the film states. "What does it do to a society when things people desire are illegal? How different is a society that doesn't criminalize human behavior?"
Chartrand acknowledged that Massachusetts and other states have relaxed their views of marijuana in recent years.
"I know the severity of this has decreased in the public's eye, but it still produces quite a problem within the community with abuse of the drug," Chartrand said. "The availability out there is something that I believe is dangerous to the youth of the community."
Chartrand noted the potential for a robbery or violence if the wrong people found out about such an operation.
"When you have that high level of lighting and power and wires and a complex electrical setup, it's inherently dangerous," Chartrand said. "They're not going to call the building inspector to come check out the wiring, so you also have the danger of a possible fire."
Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana has been decriminalized in Massachusetts, but cultivating or selling marijuana remains illegal. Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana by those over 21 years old effective Jan. 1, but growing more than six plants at a time remains illegal there.
Washington state has also voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana, but Washington's law doesn't take effect until later this year.
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