A 25-year-old Florida man, worried police might soon uncover his illegal marijuana business, made a rookie mistake that quickly brought his nightmares to life.
Christopher Stoddard was arrested in July outside a shopping mall in Bradenton, Fla., where he was allegedly trying to dump several trash bags full of marijuana trimmings into a dumpster. He was charged with growing cannabis, possessing it, and possessing it with intent to distribute it.
Police say an officer spotted Stoddard unloading a large quantity of plant trimmings into a Dumpster behind the Beachway Plaza shopping center in Bradenton. The officer saw Stoddard moving a trash can and bags from his car to the dumpster, according to a police report.
“The officer approached the vehicle and noticed a large amount of marijuana plants in the bags,” the report said.
Defendant allegedly revealed operation to police
After his arrest, Stoddard allegedly told a narcotics detective that he was growing and selling cannabis out of his home nearby. He became convinced police would soon uncover his operation, the report said.
“Mr. Stoddard stated that he was afraid that he was in danger of being discovered and decided to get rid of the evidence of the marijuana grow,” the report said. “Mr. Stoddard went on to explain that he sells the weed he grows and nets approximately $500 a week in marijuana sales.”
That suggests Stoddard may have been working on his own as a low-level dealer. When Bradenton police searched his home, they found a small amount of marijuana and a larger amount of cultivation equipment, according to the report.
Stoddard was booked at the Manatee County Jail in early July and was being held on $10,500 bond. Cannabis cultivation and possession with intent are potentially felonies in Florida, while simple possession is a misdemeanor.
Up to five years in prison
Stoddard could face up to five years in prison on the cultivation charge alone, with an even heavier sentence if more than 25 plants were involved. Police didn’t say how much marijuana they found at Stoddard’s home.
Stoddard isn’t the first Floridian to wind up in trouble over bizarre behavior involving cannabis plants. Last summer, two brothers were arrested after one of them allegedly attacked the other with a marijuana plant.
Less than two weeks later, a woman was caught on dashboard video eating a bag of cannabis while handcuffed in the back of a police squad car.