Skagit County neighbors try to eradicate weed growers

Neighbors are trying to eradicate a weed problem in their community -- one that was approved by voters two years ago. Eric Wilkinson reports.

SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. -- Growing pains are sweeping through Washington as communities grapple with where pot can be grown. Some neighbors in Skagit County are finding large scale marijuana operations just across their backyards.

The fields of Skagit County are fertile ground for all kinds of crops, but no one was expecting an infestation of weed.

"It's a major marijuana grow," said resident Sharon Sowell.

A large scale pot plant is now operating in a residential neighborhood just outside Mount Vernon.

It's just the other side of Sowell's backyard. She's concerned about her property values dropping and the potential for crime with the state's lucrative new cash crop.

"No one is going to break into a tulip farm for purposes of theft," Sowell said.

While a representative for the operation says everything inside is completely legal, neighbors point out that the location itself is clearly less than 1,000 feet from a school bus stop.

According to the state, that would not be against the law.

"We preserve farmland, we preserve wetlands, we preserve wildlife. Why can we not preserve neighborhoods?" said Joan Schleh, neighbor.

In another part of the county, another grow operation. This one right next door to Lori Scott's home.

"From hell's heart I stab at thee," she read from a quote posted on one of the tarps on the grow operation.

She was greeted by the rather ominous Moby Dick quote one morning.

"Oh, I just felt very threatened," Scott said.

She believes the county should've thought this through a bit better before allowing the operations so close to homes, and worries without better regulation there could be a sort of "greenhouse effect," where they appear in neighborhoods everywhere.

"And we are slowly finding it is happening in other neighborhoods, but it has taken some time because it's so new," said Scott.

The attorney for the grow operation outside Mount Vernon told KING 5 his client is compliant with Washington law. The following is his full statement:

I am attorney Aaron M. Lukoff from the Law Offices of Aaron M. Lukoff & Associates, PLLC. We are writing you this evening with regard to a story you a running at 5 pm on concerns with the legal growing and harvesting of marijuana from neighbors or other community members. My client is compliant with Washington law and have not broken any civil or criminal laws dealing with marijuana. Most marijuana used in Washington is for medical purposes and these patients have a much better quality of life because of marijuana's status in Washington State. The folks who made the complaint to your show have some issue with my client. If they don't like what is happening at my client's location, then they can run for the Washington State legislature and change the laws. If they continue to harass my client or their employees, we might be forced to get a civil anti-harassment order against them. My client doesn't want to take anybody to court but my client and their employees deserve not to be harassed.

Calls to Skagit County Commissioners for comment were not returned Monday.


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