“It’s probably the big indicator – energy usage,” says Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. “High water usage is another one. If you can see the water bills and electric bills – that might give you some indication as to whether it has been used for growing.”
“The [NAR] members that we asked about that did say that if the house is used to grow marijuana, it can be difficult to get rid of the smell or moisture issues within the home,” says Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR.
“When we purchased it, we were not aware that marijuana had been grown on the property,” says Herigstad, who wrote about the experience for realtor.com. “It was just a very distressed property. There was a lot to look at.”
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Residential weed cultivation grows a slew of structural problems
If the power wiring could hide in the walls, there are other plain signs that give away former weed growing houses. A lingering putrid smell often haunts the rooms. Some of it may stem from the weed plants that once lived indoors. Some of it might actually emanate from mold that thrives in the high-moisture, high-temperature conditions needed for indoor growing.
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“That’s a pretty good first clue,” Herigstad said. “Nobody uses that much wiring to grow flowers.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, legal weed sales have spiked, with industry leaders pushing for a federal decriminalization as a means to aid the recovery of the currently shackled economy. Even U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for the creation of a legal weed market in a tweet today, April 20, the “weed day” holiday for recreational marijuana use.
This article, originally published 12/02/2015, has been updated.
Although more elaborate booby traps have included explosives and guns set up to fire when doors are opened, these are much rarer. The best way to avoid being hurt by a booby trap is conducting good initial surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as going slow and being observant when on scene.
There have been many incidents of officers and firefighters being electrocuted while dealing with indoor grows. In Alameda, California, a firefighter was seriously electrocuted while battling a fire at an indoor grow. In Phoenix, Arizona, a police officer was shocked while dismantling a grow.
The best way to avoid an electrical shock at a grow is to make sure that the current to the house is cut off. You will need to bring the electric company with you to accomplish this. You should not start your investigation until the electricity has been shut off.
Running that electricity into the grow creates some problems. Many growers end up altering the circuit coming into the structure where the grow is. Others may steal electricity, which presents other problems. Once the electricity is coming into the structure, growers will often use items in the growing process that will kick up the current, like ballasts.
Officers are also getting sick from toxins from fertilizers and other contaminants on the marijuana. According to NES, a company providing safety training for police officers across the country, an officer worked in a large grow (1500 plants) for nearly five hours. At the end of the shift, the officer noticed a small finger cut. The following day, the officer was suffering from chills and profuse sweating. Over time, the officer experienced sore and swollen ankles, tight calves, sore joints and muscle twitching. After visiting a physician and eventually an internist, it was determined the officer had fallen ill from pesticide poisoning.
Common effects reported include headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties, sinus congestion, sinus irritation and skin rash. In some cases, officers have been seriously hurt and suffered injuries that could have ended their careers.
2. Faulty Electrical Hook Ups
Although not as common, some growers do booby trap their sites. They are doing this more to protect their crops from theft than to harm the police. In Berne, New York, a man was almost decapitated by his own booby trap that he had set up in his crop. The most common booby traps have ranged from dogs roaming the grow to spikes set up along the exterior fencing.
It’s important for officers not to treat entering and processing indoor marijuana grows as a routine event. We have been bombarded by the pro-marijuana legalization groups that marijuana is harmless. We, however, cannot fall into that lull. Indoor marijuana grows are harming our officers at an alarming rate and we must take precautions to protect ourselves.
“My realtor felt that it was great that he offered six months rent up front,” Skibby said.
Stealing electricity is a felony, but illegally cultivating marijuana in every room of a house is just a misdemeanor. It’s estimated this was a million-dollar operation.
By Carolyn Johnson • Published June 10, 2021 • Updated on June 11, 2021 at 11:52 pm
“They’re just peppered everywhere throughout the high desert,” said pilot Sgt. Jon Anderson.
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What was once a beautifully maintained five-bedroom, four-bath house is now just a damaged shell of its former self.