Police arrested an elderly Florida couple in October and accused them of growing marijuana in their home.

The sheriff’s office for Hernando County, located along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, said Lorenzo Aday, 84, and his wife, Adriana, 73, were arrested and charged with cultivation of cannabis, posession of more than 20 grams, possession of a building for the purpose of making a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft of services.

The grow, like many others, was uncovered when workers at the local electric company noticed the couple’s Brooksville house was using an unusual amount of energy. They tipped off the sheriff’s office, and deputies raided the home.

Power usage was a giveaway

Detectives with the sheriff’s Vice and Narcotics Unit visited the home in mid October with an employee from the Withlacoochee River Electric Co. The employee told police the house was drawing more power than its meter indicated.

That is usually a sign of a large indoor marijuana grow. Cannabis farmers need large amounts of power, but that’s expensive, and cultivators don’t want to alert the power company to their grow sites, so they often jury-rig a building’s wiring to circumvent the meter.

Even after that step, electric companies can determine how much power is going to a home, and any discrepancy with the meter readings will likewise be a giveaway of a marijuana garden. This is why the Adays were charged with theft of services, for allegedly stealing electricity.

Police found 30 plants

Marijuana PlantDetectives said they could smell the marijuana plants when they got to the house. Lorenzo Aday told the detectives and their fellow sheriff’s deputies that he and his wife were growing cannabis, and consented to a search of the home.

The detectives found 30 plants in the home’s garage, part of an elaborate grow operation. Cultivation equipment, fertilizer, scales, and plastic baggies were also found at the house and logged as paraphernalia. Deputies also found half a pound of processed bud.

Lorenzo Aday told detectives the cannabis was his, but otherwise didn’t make any statements to police. He served prison time in the past on a marijuana conspiracy conviction.

Cannabis is illegal for almost any use in Florida, though it has been legalized in non-intoxicating form to treat a short list of conditions, mostly childhood epilepsy. Voters rejected a ballot proposal last year that would have allowed full MMJ, but the idea is likely to appear on the ballot again. Most observers expect the state will approve medical marijuana sooner rather than later.

state marijuana laws