Tennessee Authorities Find Weed Cultivation Site Inside Church

December 6, 2023 · High Times

Law enforcement officials in Tennessee have shut down a cannabis cultivation site that was operating in a converted church, seizing about 2,000 weed plants in the process. The raid on the church, which was conducted last week by the Stewart County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), was the result of a weeks-long investigation, according to law enforcement officials.

Although the plant count was not especially high for commercial marijuana growing operations, Sheriff Frankie Gray noted that the bust shut down Stewart County’s largest discovered weed farm ever.

“The sheriff’s office shut down the largest marijuana grow in county history,” Gray said in a statement to local media.

In a social media post on Friday, the sheriff’s office noted that deputies had been conducting an investigation of the church for three weeks after local residents reported a strong odor emanating from the property. The investigators conducted traffic stops to question people they had seen coming from and going to the church and were told that hemp was being grown at the site, which is legal in Tennessee with a license from the state.

Sheriff’s deputies also investigated the electricity and water usage at the property, which was originally built as a Methodist church in 1960 and later sold. Investigators learned that the grow operation had a water bill that was characterized by local media as “high” and was using about $3,000 per month in electricity.

Last week, the SCSO obtained a search warrant for the church on Highway 46 in the community of Indian Mound. Sheriff’s deputies and law enforcement officers from the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force then raided the site on Thursday and discovered about 2,000 cannabis plants including live plants and others that had already been harvested and dried. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also assisted in serving the search warrant.

Cops Fear Possible Booby Traps At Cultivation Site

The sheriff’s office said the marijuana cultivation operation included elaborate lighting and watering systems operated by automatic timers. The agency also reported that the search of the site was slowed as deputies investigated “the possibility of booby traps laid out for law enforcement.” The SCSO also reported that investigators found “a large amount of possibly toxic chemicals” at the site.

Law enforcement officers took one person into custody when the search warrant was served, although officials did not specify what charges the individual was being held on. Others are wanted for questioning, the sheriff’s office said.

The converted church, which is located in northern central Tennessee about 70 miles northwest of Nashville, is listed for sale on Zillow, according to media reports. The property is listed as having four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The listing also notes that the site, which formerly had two buildings, was converted into one building with the addition of a breezeway. The person posting the listing said they were “looking for a quick sale” of the property.

Tennessee is one of only about a dozen U.S. states that have not adopted a comprehensive plan to legalize medical marijuana, although a limited measure to legalize low-THC CBD oil was passed in 2015. Possession of even small amounts of cannabis is still a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Those who commented on the social media post from the sheriff’s office in conservative Stewart County were mostly in favor of the law enforcement action to shut down the cannabis cultivation site discovered at the church last week.

“Our Law Enforcement Agency is always on top of things. Great job!” one person commented.

“Thank you for shutting this operation down,” said another. “Your hard work is appreciated. Stay safe.”

“Thankful for our sheriff’s department and all involved,” added a third Facebook user. (Full Story)

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