Tip leads sheriff's department, DTF to marijuana patch

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   There's nothing like a walk in the mountains to renew one's sense of adventure. You never know what you might find.
   Carter County Sheriff John Henson, Sgt. George Skeans, and a First Judicial District Drug Task Force agent took a stroll Sunday in the Hampton Creek section of Roan Mountain and came back with approximately 50 marijuana plants -- the first of the season for Carter County Sheriff's Department.
   "About two or three more weeks will be prime time," Henson said.
   According to the sheriff, 911 received a call Sunday "from a concerned citizen about marijuana growing in the Hampton Creek section of Roan Mountain. Officers went up and found about 50 plants, 7 to 8 feet tall, growing on a place where an old residence is."
   The residence was unoccupied, Henson said. "The owners of the property knew nothing about them being there and they did give us consent to go get them."
   While gardens all around the county are shriveling, the marijuana patch was thriving, according to the sheriff. The plants were surrounded with a page wire fence to keep animals out.
   "They were well taken care of," Henson said. There was no irrigation system, but, "It was real damp in there where they were at. They were getting probably three to four hours a day direct sunlight."
   The plants were located in an "old growed-up field with a lot of flowers and bushes grown up in it. They were down in a little valley where you could look over the field but you couldn't see them. They were kind of back in a thicket and would have been very hard to see if you hadn't just about walked up on them; and them that big, they were still hard to spot."
   Henson said some of the plants were starting to "bud out."
   "Probably in the next two or three weeks most of them would have been podded out [mature]. Supposedly, when they pod out and bud is when they get real strong. Of course, they use stalk and all and grind everything up," he said.
   The plants have been placed into evidence. The investigation is continuing and arrests are pending.