Forest Service worker caught growing marijuana on federal lands

A Wrangell man lost his job with the U.S. Forest Service and, apparently, his dreams of a sideline in marijuana sales when he was arrested for cultivating marijuana on federal lands and eventually convicted. But he won't serve any jail time, reports Alaska Dispatch, and will return to carpentry to make a living.

Investigators seized 95 plants from three locations on Forest Service land and said [Jeffrey] Cox admitted that he had planned to grow the marijuana for use and sale.

Had Cox been busted with just five more plants -- bringing the total seized to 100 -- prosecutors argued that Cox would have been exposed to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The fact that he approached that threshold, placed the plants near a hiking trail, built a greenhouse nearby and planned to feed the plants Miracle Gro showed Cox was serious about his drug operation, they said.

But Cox's defense attorney said prosecutors' characterization of the operation as a "substantial marijuana grow" was an exaggeration. "This 'grow' had no electricity, no timing, no shelter, no sophisticated lights, no involvement by other people and virtually no chance of success," Ellen Tatter wrote in a sentencing brief.

Read more at Alaska Dispatch.