The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 13, 2013

What happens to confiscated pot?

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— After law enforcement officers seized 58 pounds of marijuana Wednesday at a southeast Limestone County home, they stored the grass temporarily in an evidence locker inside the county jail, Sheriff Mike Blakely said.

The typical pot seizure nets only a few ounces to a few pounds of wacky weed, so storage is rarely a problem. However, when the haul is larger, like the one Wednesday, authorities have to do something with it.

In this case, the evidence will be dried, weighed, boxed up and driven to the Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville, where it will be tested to make sure it is the real deal, said Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones. Then, it will be returned to Limestone County, where authorities will determine how much of the grass must be retained as evidence at trial.

It takes 2.2 pounds of marijuana to merit a trafficking charge, Jones said, so some amount over that would be retained and the rest could be destroyed.

The sheriff lets his narcotics officers handle the destruction of confiscated reefer in Limestone County.

“We do a controlled burn or take it to an incinerator to burn it,” Blakely said.

If the amount of pot is small, officers douse it with diesel and ignite it in a burn pit, he said.

If the amount is large — say 50, 100 or 2,500 pounds or more — it goes to an incinerator.

“We don’t want guys snorting that up,” the sheriff said, meaning he doesn’t want anyone inhaling mass quantities of vaporized cannabinoids from a controlled burn.

Sometimes the county uses the incinerator at the Leak City pipeline safety-training center off Sanderfer Road, the sheriff said.

Jones said storage of confiscated marijuana typically isn’t an issue.

“We haven’t had that many cases where we had that much dope where there was a storage problem,” he said.