June 17th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

Tracking down a cannabis garden

Editor's Note: For more on the case for and against legalizing marijuana, tune in tonight to hear Joe Johns' full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Inside the licensed and legal cannabis garden in Portland, Oregon.

Joe Johns, AC360° Correspondent
Justine Redman, AC360° Producer

We're in Portland, Oregon, working on our story about the case for legalizing marijuana, and we arranged to go see a garden where licensed and legal marijuana is grown to to provide medical marijuana for designated patients. The owner gave us the address, and soon we were driving through a quiet Portland neighborhood, trying to imagine how there could be a pot farm in such a tightly residential area.

We drove straight past it the first time. It was just a quiet little house. But when you walk round the back, the smell of marijuana hits you full on. Past the tall gate is a well-tended, manicured garden of 24 young plants. By the end of the summer it will look like a jungle as the shrubs get to be taller than a human being.

You have to wonder about security. A narcotics officer told us that they got most of their leads on cannabis grows because of tips from neighbors saying they can smell it. For anyone in the neighborhood, it would be pretty obvious what was going on in this backyard, and it was easy to imagine people climbing the fence and stealing the plants. The garden owners said it was a concern, and sometimes they build up the fences a bit higher, but that barbed wire would just attract more attention. Mostly they just relied on friendly neighbors and a fierce-looking gardener.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Joe Johns • Justine Redman
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Eric

    Think about this question.
    If all illegal drugs disappeared tomorrow, what would happen to all the jobs and funding of DEA, Law Enforcement, Prison guards, Lawyers, judges, the drug testing industry etc?

    Now do you see why they always go after low level dealers and users instead of the big kingpins. All the groups I mentioned want your kids on drugs so they can bust them, incarcerated them and these groups receive job security and Federal funding while creating the illusion that they are making you and your community safer. Drugs don’t cause crime, the prohibition of them does.

    June 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  2. John

    I didn't like yesterday's program because first we were shown how "Mexican drug cartels" and "illegal aliens" are growing pot and guns in U. S. national parks and harming the environment by watering their plants followed by the piece where Anderson Cooper is in the dispensery trying to look like he doesn't know what anything is (he really wanted to grab the jar and run for his life but he'll have to wait to hook up with Bill Maher in LA). The implication was: farm to market. The product sold in dispenseries is grown legally in the collective system.
    I would hate to smoke anything grown in a national forrest by people using miracle grow or whatever commercial fertilizer Anderson showed at the end of the piece. Nitrogen makes it taste harsh. They were amatuers.
    Does anyone else think that story about illegal alien slaves tending a pot garden worth a million is a little loopy? Take these bb guns and protect and tend these plants. We'll be back for you later. By the way, do you have a green thumb? These are worth a million dollars, so keep them watered. Or else! There are a lot of loose nails holding that story together. I think it's local kids. Maybe they couldn't afford college.

    June 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  3. keith ferguson (canada)

    Joe and Justine you two should do a follow up story in the fall when those girls are in full flower. The many varieties being grown would be a feast for the eyes and for you two the many aromas will take your breath away. As a former tender of The Lords most precious gift to humanity I salute those with the courage to do Gods work in the face of Satins Minions who not only want to destroy Gods medicine but also to destroy the lives of those who grow and use it.

    June 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  4. radicalruss

    @Phillip I.: Ah, the "slippery slope". Legalize pot and we'll have to legalize coke, meth, and heroin. Just like how if we let gay folks marry, then we have to allow polygamy, incest, and bestiality.

    Let's think about "Legalize". Beer's "legal", aspirin's "legal", penicillin's "legal", and morphine's "legal". You can buy beer and aspirin in the store, but you have to see a doctor to get penicillin and morphine. Even then, the doc will probably let you take a penicillin prescription home, but you'll require inpatient treatment to get the morphine. Or considering "legal" alcohol – you can buy the beer in convenience store, but you have to go to a special adults-only store to get the Bacardi 151, and in some places in the country, you can't buy either because you're in a "dry" county.

    Why can't legalizing "drugs" be thought of with the same logic? The pot you get to buy in the adults-only cannabis store where your ID is checked and limits are established, the coke you might have to get a prescription for, and the meth and heroin require you to visit a doctor and get inpatient treatment. And perhaps some states and counties will be "dry" and not allow you to buy any of these drugs.

    Get off the slippery slope, it only shows that marijuana is so relatively free from harm that you can't scare people about it unless you bring up other, more harmful drugs.

    June 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  5. free

    If the FDA has released 100%THC prescription medication, then that must indicate there is an admitted health benefit from use of THC. I propose that I don’t want to have to fork over my money to Big Pharma for it. Frankly I’d rather hand my money directly to the cartels before i see a pharmaceutical company try to “own” this plant and substance, and try to feed me a synthetic pill (warning: may cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloody stool, headaches, and, in some cases, death-haha!) version of something I can self-medicate naturally. God forbid anyone is allowed to make themselves feel better without their consent! I am certain Big Pharma knows people feel this way, and that free use of cannabis for the sick would put a very large dent in their profits. I am curious how much funding they give to support prohibition.


    all this stir about people who arent sick getting medical cards just so they can get high……Well, lets dig a little deeper. It is obvious that anyone who would seek a medical card just to get high already gets stoned, frequently enough to justify the effort in getting a card, and have been buying their cannabis from an illegal source, perhaps ultimately a Mexican Cartel. Why would a non-sick pot smoker want a medical card? The want one so they can essentially smoke legally, ‘protected’ from penalty. Their money is no longer going to cartels, and instead is going partly to the state in taxes. They avoid combusting the marijuana by eating it in food, lollipops, candies, helping to alleviate any possible strain on the lungs. These people are good people who are harming nobody, doing something that should be their soverign right in this Land of the Free ( where BOTH Washington and Jefferson grew cannabis and smoked it ). Those who enjoy pot are trying to do the right thing by attempting to do it legally (despite their methodology). This shows that people WANT to cooperate with regulation. Perhaps understanding the bigger picture will help when people try to make a fuss out of nothing.


    Im sick and tire of hearing “the children! the children!” . Are you people really so dense? This is NOT a debate about making cannabis legal for kids ages 3-17!!!! I am an ADULT who has the intrinsic sovereignty to do WHATEVER I please with my body, provided I harm nobody through my actions. Your morals and values are NOT everyone’s morals and values. I don’t care if you don’t like me smoking pot! I’ll respect your space and wont do it in front of you if you don’t like it, but if you think you can tell me what to do you have another thing coming. Case in point, pot has been illegal for a while now, and its rate of usage HASN’T gone down. Prohibition hasn’t worked. I know your reply will be, ” but if you make it legal, kids will have so much easier access to it!”. A giant B.S. on that one! Listen up, your kids already have access to it. Kids, themselves, have said cannabis is more accessible than alcohol. If your kid is caught experimenting, say goodbye to financial aid to college, depending on your state your child may face criminal charges. Does your child deserve this? For something that peer- reviewed, replicated experiments have proven is much, much safer than alcohol? If taxed and regulated, it will be easier to keep it from minors- as alcohol, and penalties would still be in place for people providing to minors. It certainly wont be a free-for-all. I repeat, if your child wants it, it is ALREADY there. This is no reason to impinge upon MY rights. Try being a better parent, instead.

    bring freedom back to this country

    June 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  6. free

    June 17th, 2009 12:59 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    “no ability to tax it” ?!?!?

    There is an ABSOLUTE ability to tax it! Domestic growers have a divided philosophy. If legalized their revenue would drop substantially to make up for the high tax rate placed on the cannabis, and keep the street price basically the same as now. There would likely be increased competition as well. On the other side, growers are sympathetic to the cause of legalizing it because they see cannabis as the benign enlightening, healing substance that it is. One thing is certain, no domestic grower wants to get raided and face huge fines, court cases, and jail time, not to mention collateral damage of a potentially destroyed family life. If it was legalized and growers had to face a cut in value of their product regardless, I can tell you they would be lining up to get their permits to grow legally ASAP. They pay their tax to get the permit, they dispense only to dispensaries or face big penalties. The dispensaries do what they do with the appropriate tax levied, and regulate sales to legal adults only. If people have to pay the same price for legal weed from a dispensary as for illegal weed ( and face a penalty) virtually everyone will buy legally. Look at all the people obtaining medical cards fraudulently- they WANT to do it in a legal manner and follow the rules. To say you couldn’t tax it is ASININE! The masses don’t want to put in the energy or pay the start-up costs of growing their own, anyway. It is easier to make beer than to grow decent cannabis, yet how many people do you see substituting home brewing all their beer as opposed to hopping over to the liquor store to buy a six pack? Over 99% would just go to the store where the selection is way better, the quality is assured, and the ingestion methods are varied. Never forget, the masses are inherently lazy. Couldn’t tax it, HA!!!! I’ve just displayed not only how it can be taxed, but also how it could be regulated. I should add that this is also just for the direct cannabis consumption, not even including all the by-products of hemp! Entirely new kinds of industries, businesses, and products would explode onto the scene. Hemp has seemingly limitless uses! Think about all the job creation from these new industries, think of all the taxes paid by legitimate businesses. The tax revenue that would be collected from all aspects of business related to this plant, is simply mind-boggling. Mind-boggling to the tune of BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of Dollars! To keep this plant illegal is grossly negligent to the health of this country, particularly now. Its direct consumption is safer than alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, most pharmaceuticals, fast food, and is credited to many health benefits. Its indirect consumption is, I feel, the larger case for legalization. With a little research you will find that hemp is a wonder plant and I see so many jobs being created from industries that would spring up from its legalization. I see the revenue being immense, I see it being very environmentally responsible.
    All this stigma… what a shame.

    June 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  7. victoria

    i hope you report on how and when the marijuana laws changed in this country and who profitted. i believe that returning to the use of hemp in textiles and cosmetics would be definitely be healthier for us than using chemicals, petroleum oil and plastics. and the medicinal benefits of pure plant use over chemicals is obvious. no adverse side affects and you can control the amount of use in smoking or topical as opposed to marinol. marinol is normally dispensed in vitamin e like sofgels, making it very difficult to use less than recommended dose...

    June 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  8. Tony

    Cannabis was made illegal in the mid 30's without any examination of facts,,it was made illegal mainly because of racism.

    Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug.

    The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You'll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate.

    You'll also see that the history of marijuana's criminalization is filled with:

    Protection of Corporate Profits
    Yellow Journalism
    Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
    Personal Career Advancement and Greed
    These are the actual reasons marijuana is illegal.

    The 2 men who are responsible are Harry Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst. PLZ investigate it!!!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Kathy

    Give the people what they want,Alcohol has always been way worse Ive seen it first hand,I dont see how a simple plant put on gods green earth should have ever been regulated or illegal,

    June 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |

    Pot does more than just get you high. It has hundreds of uses- food, fuel, fiber, medicine. We could save the rain forest simply by making paper out of hemp. Did you know the Constiution of the United States was written on hemp paper? Anderson, please show these people the history behind prohibition. Kathy is correct-there is no reason for pot to be illegal. Prohibition is unconstitutional and is depriving us of our rights as Americans. I am sickened at the thought of all the research we have not been able to do because of prohibition. Spain has determined that cannabis shrinks tumors in lab rats! What if this is the cure for cancer? Thousands of people have come forward to say that it helps them medically. If it helps one person, I say legalize it! Use it for an alternative form of fuel. Use it to build houses. Use it to save our planet! The idea of being "high" scares the crap out of people who have never experienced it. Pot has so many other viable uses that we are ignoring because most of the public are ignorant about the issues. It is up to you, the media, to educate the public. Thank you for bringing attention to this topic.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  11. Tiffany

    I have Epilepsy and live in TN. Only marijuana prevents my seizures. I need it to be legal in TN ASAP

    June 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  12. nicole&brian

    Mr. Anderson Cooper, my pops and i watch your show every night. you're cool. we were wondering though, do YOU like to get stoned? aha.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  13. Tiffany

    pot has medicinal benefits. those other drugs do not. so your arguement has no basis when you say legalize pot and whats next.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Soledad Gomez

    Since mm was legalized in California it's worked out well. Why not in other states? With everything that's not that terribly bad there has to be mid area.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Philip is obtuse

    Hi Philip–is that the entirety of your argument? That legalizing Cannabis will result in the drive to legalize heroin? You do realize the hilarity of that, do you not? Cannabis is not debilitating, nor a health issue to the degree of any of those substances. Cannabis is not physically addictive as proven in numerous studies. Cannabis is not a gateway drug, as proven in numerous studies.

    Why would the legalization of a substance that has been prohibited for less than 1% of its historical use by humans...end up resulting in the legalization of other substances...?

    The propagandists, once again, prove to have no substantive arguments against ending prohibition.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Marjorie

    It would be good to have it Fed. legalized for medical purposes. It would help with Glucoma, nausia from chemo, anger, sinus headaches many things, however, it would take it out of the hands of gangs and cartels a lot, allow police to concentrate of other things, free up space in jails, and prisons, allow people who could benefit from it, to do so with violating Fed law, and therefore many religions also.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  17. Adam

    ah... natures beauty! This is truly a wonderful plant. Purple Rhino sounds so tasty!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Howard Marks

    Purple Rhino, eh? Not bad!

    If the propaganda parrots had any idea of the extent of the domestic cannabis cultivation industry, their heads would explode.

    Love me some Cindy99 and UK Cheese!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  19. Tony

    Another point is the opponet says that Rob doesnt want it to go to the FDA for approval,,,,do you think thats because our Govt runs the FDA and we can see that they dont want pot legal! Of course Rob wants it to go to where the American people have the best chance of their vote on it to count

    If some of you Americans havent noticed America is ran by BIG BUISNESS and our GOVT is their partner,,look it up the BIG PHARMA companies are one of the biggest if not the biggest contributers to political parties dont you think thats a big part of the reason they dont want us Americans self medicating ourselves with cannabis just think of the money they would lose,,,not to mention that PRISON’s are a HUGE money maker the U.S has more people in prison than any other country hands down and we build 8 prisons to every college!

    Educate yourselves America its time to legalize cannabis stand up and speak out every chance you get ,e-mail and make phone calls to you congressmen tell them to legalize and quit throwing our family members in jail for smoking a joint!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  20. Tiffany

    legalize it! it has more benefits than harmful effects

    June 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  21. Philip I.

    Legalize pot... Yes! How about Cocaine, Opium, Heroin and Crystal Meth. My point is simple if we legalize pot, then what's next?

    June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  22. Kathy

    Dear Donna: We don't need a reason to legalize pot – YOU need a reason to criminalize it. That's the way freedom works and that is why the pot issue is in the forefront these days – there is no rational, legal or medical basis to criminalize it. I bet if we took your booze you would find that "wrong" but you don't mind denying others their "refreshments." The burden is on the government to prove criminalization is necessary – and they [and you] just can't.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  23. Put a poll on AC360 - Lets see the #'s - Y or N?

    Anderson, put a poll on your site the front page of your site. Let's see some #'s!!!!!!!!

    Coming from a non smoker, I bet most folks say yes. At least the logical folks.


    Also, Hollywood should get involved and speak up.

    Micheal Moore, or someone should make a movie of what life would be like if it was legal. Not a comedy, but a realistic view.

    I don't think much would change if treated exactly like alcohol. The first 6 months would be exciting. After that, the same folks who smoke, will smoke. The folks who dont smoke won't.

    I won't be smoking, but the others should have a choice to.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  24. r0ck3rgurl

    Hmmmm...if my parents, who have never smoked pot, would smell the marijuana plants, they would not know what it is and would not call the police to tip them off. Maybe, eventually, they would come to find out via word of mouth. But for those who ratted out these growers, you have probably smoked pot and know what it smells like. And apparently, you enjoy having to go to a dealer, instead of buying it from a store? So stupid!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  25. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    Someone named "David" form another article on this touchy subject stated that Tennessee admitts to haveing largest cannabis crop in the country? Get real David! Tennessee never admitts to
    anything! I ought to know I live there. Because the officials here would hate to have share the revenue! It's always been that way. Besides that is a poor excuse for the legalization of marijuanna.
    Donna Wood Lil' Tennessee

    June 17, 2009 at 11:52 am |