Most busts happen when word of the garden makes it to the cops. There are two types of informants: the involved informant, and the uninvolved informant. The involved informant, or snitch, is the worst kind of person.
THE INVOLVED INFORMANT
One of biggest leaks in a garden operation tends to be folks shooting their mouth off when they shouldn’t. Every time you tell someone about your garden, you should assume you have just told ten people. You may consider the person to be trustworthy, and the friend most likely doesn’t mean to expose your secret maliciously, but that friend may end up “accidentally” telling another friend who ends up being less than trustworthy. Often the snitch is someone’s jilted ex-lover, a disgruntled former business partner, or someone you just irritated or nosey. Sometimes the bust is a direct result of loose talk or other indiscretion. Evaluate the character of the people you recruit to help you with your grow and use common sense in how you act. In small towns, where everyone knows the local gossip: what people do for a living, their hobbies and habits, and their daily schedules one must be particularly careful of decorum. In the modern world social media can pass a photo around like wildfire, and expose your grow to not just tens, but hundreds or thousands of prying eyes.
Flashing fat wads of cash in front of the ladies at harvest time doesn’t help with discretion. Have some “legitimate” work or source of income. Having inherited money is not uncommon but getting welfare assistance in the off-season and passing as wealthy when the crop comes in will make people talk. The garden’s location may become a matter of speculation. If it is at or near your house, it will be found. People who act outrageously in public are often busted and cause official inquiries into their lives. This causes problems, especially if they’re not prepared to answer questions about money sources.
If you attract the attention of the wrong sort of people, your garden, you, and your family could be in danger. Snitches and undercover cops are bad enough, but there are also armed thieves to worry about.
Successful growers resist the temptation to talk to strangers who seem to have an interest in marijuana. Even if the stranger doesn’t seem to know who you are, he or she can create problems. Undercover cops often say they’re growers, seem to know a lot, and don’t hesitate to talk about their projects. If you are smart, you won’t take this as a sign that these are “real” or friendly people.
Just because someone still smokes with you does not mean they aren‘t a potential snitch. Cops and snitches still use drugs while undercover, even though they will probably deny it in front of a judge.
THE UNINVOLVED INFORMANT
The uninvolved informant, anonymous citizen, or random mischief maker is considered reliable enough in many cases to start a law enforcement hassle. The police need little to no corroboration for reports of crime from them.
If a hunter, fisherman, or back-packer stumbles across your backcountry project, or if the meter reader sees the light beaming from under the garage door. That information may be enough for the police to get a warrant and make a visit.
Even burglars and robbers sometimes become citizen informants. You might think that people who come with larceny in their heart and a weapon on their hip are more deserving of prosecution than the person who is growing weed. But police and district attorneys are rarely sympathetic to a marijuana grower.
Police and their agents don’t have to admit they’re cops if they’re asked directly. Entrapment laws don’t apply here. Being undercover means you never have to say you’re sorry. The whole modus operandi of undercover cops is to lie to you well enough to make you believe they’re not what they are. Their jobs depend on their ability to fool people. They are seasoned at deception and seldom have much trouble with amateurs such as mere citizens. An average judge or jury member doesn’t stand a chance of being able to tell when an undercover cop is lying. They are literally professional liars, and frequently are armed ones.
Besides snitches, another common way to get busted is an accident. Although a person can’t always stop accidents from happening, many of them can be prevented or ameliorated. For instance, a passive watering system is less likely to leak than an active one. Smoking a joint in a car while transporting cannabis is advertising for disaster. Using an unlicensed car, one that stands out, or has mechanical problems, is asking for trouble.
A fire in the grow room, or someone getting hurt in or around your property, may implicate you in a grow. Keep your home and especially the grow space up to code. Keep a charged fire extinguisher on hand and make sure that all electrical plugs, connections, and outlets are safe from dripping water and none of the wires are exposed.
ABOUT ED ROSENTHAL “THE GURU OF GANJA”
Ed Rosenthal is a leading cannabis horticulture authority, author, educator, social activist and legalization pioneer. He writes the much loved and long-running cannabis column, ‘Ask Ed’, and his seminal cannabis growers guide, ‘Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower’s Handbook’ has become the definitive marijuana cultivation resource, inspiring millions to learn the best marijuana cultivation techniques. His upcoming book, Beyond Buds, Next Generation, is the indispensable guide for anyone looking for perspective on the next generation of cannabis innovation.
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