Officers got more than they bargained for Friday morning when they discovered an illegal medical marijuana grow during a domestic call in a remote area of Graham County.
Deputies from the Graham County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to 26858 Four Feathers Loop at about 8:08 a.m. after a man called the Graham County Dispatch and said his father had assaulted him with a handgun. The location is in the subdivided area of what used to be the Eureka Springs Ranch between Klondyke and Bonita. The residence is approximately 20 miles south of Klondyke.
The alleged victim, Christopher Stroud, 27, said his father, Rocky Stroud, 58, was upset over the condition of a motor home on the property, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office. Christopher told deputies that his father first attempted to use mace on him and retrieved a Glock handgun when the mace failed. Christopher moved toward his father, and Rocky struck him in the face with the butt of the Glock, according to the release. Rocky then allegedly fired a shot in Christopher's direction and retrieved a Ruger mini 14 rifle. Christopher said when he heard the safety to the Ruger switch off, he grabbed a cordless phone and called 9-1-1 as he ran into the desert. He managed a short conversation with a dispatch operator before the phone died and then made it to a neighbor's house.
Christopher was located at the neighbor's house wearing only underwear with a shirt and socks. He was bleeding from his face and was transported to a hospital by Southwest Ambulance, where he was treated and released.
Unable to make contact with Rocky, deputies remained outside a locked gate at the entrance of the property until they saw a car driving toward them. Rocky was driving and agreed to speak with officers. His statements contradicted those of his son, but officers felt the evidence suggested Rocky had committed a crime, according to the news release. He was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/domestic violence and was booked into the Graham County Jail.
While at the residence, deputies noticed what appeared to be an outside marijuana grow that was not in compliance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. About 20 plants were seen growing outside.
According to the AMMA, patients are only allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis every two weeks, and patients who live more than 25 miles from a state-approved dispensary are allowed to grow up to 12 plants at a time.
Outside cultivation must be enclosed by a 10-foot-high concrete, stone or metal wall and include a 1-inch-thick metal gate, according to the AMMA rules. Undersheriff Jeff McCormies told the Courier the outside grow was enclosed by chicken wire and did not have a wall.
Rocky and Christopher both have state-issued medical marijuana cards with one cultivator endorsement, according to McCormies. He said Rocky claimed to be a caregiver grower as well, but officers were not able to locate documentation that confirmed his statement. Registered caregivers are allowed to grow for up to five patients, which means they can legally grow up to 60 plants.
Based on the deputies' observations, a search warrant was granted for the residence. Inside, officers discovered a sophisticated grow operation with more than 60 plants in various stages of development – from seedlings to about 20 mature plants about five feet tall in two rooms. Another 11 plants that were recently harvested were located in a tool box on a trailer in the driveway.
Deputies confiscated all of the cannabis plants and grow equipment as well as the Glock handgun, Ruger mini 14 rifle and various other firearms. The Sheriff's Office investigation is ongoing, and charges regarding the suspected illegal production of marijuana are forthcoming, according to the release.