Elaborate marijuana grow operation uncovered in Caldwell Co - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Investigators uncover elaborate marijuana grow operation in Caldwell Co.

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CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV ) -

Forty-year-old Jason Lewis says he is in constant pain.

"I was run over by a car when I was 14," he said.

Lewis lost a leg and has back problems and says the only thing that has eased his pain is marijuana.

"I need it."

Lewis will be spending at least Wednesday night in jail, though, not for smoking the marijuana but for growing it.

After a two month investigation, deputies from the Caldwell County Sheriff's office converged on Lewis' home on Conway Drive and found what they called "an elaborate and expensive indoor grow operation."

Sheriff Alan Jones said indoor operations are becoming more common and growers try to hide hat they are doing from law enforcement.

"They wind up in quiet neighborhoods like this where we have few calls, if any," he said. 

Thirty-one plants, some a few feet tall, bushy and budding, were seized in the bust. Street value was placed at more than $77,000. The plants were seized and taken to the Sheriff's Office.

High dollar lights and other equipment, including a large tank of carbon dioxide for the plants were also confiscated.

Several of the larger plants had garden-store type plastic markers in the pots identifying the marijuana varieties as Dark Star, Purple Dream and Mr. Nice Guy. 

Lewis said that was just the name from the breeders but didn't know any more about it than that. 

He is charged with manufacturing marijuana, maintaining a dwelling for the manufacture and possession of a firearm by a felon. Authorities said Lewis has had legal troubles in the past over illegal drugs. 

Lewis admitted he was the grower as deputies took him to the magistrate to be booked.

"No sense fighting it," he said. Lewis maintains that he did not grow any of the marijuana to sell.

"It's for personal use only," he said. 

That doesn't matter, say authorities.

North Carolina does not have any laws allowing medical marijuana or allowing the cultivation of it either. Lewis was jailed Wednesday afternoon under a bond of $100,000.

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