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Two Charged with Marijuana Cultivation in Sarasota County Grow House Case

Samantha Heather Nachman, a 25-year-old North Port woman was charged last weekend with cultivating marijuana for her participation in a marijuana growing operation at a Sarasota County home. Sheriff's deputies arrested Nachman at her home in North Port.

Detectives allege Nachman helped Jose Luis Fernandez operate a grow house in the 2700 block of Thomas Lane in North Port (not the home at which she was arrested). Purportedly, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the Thomas Lane house and discovered 60 marijuana plants and nearly five pounds of cannabis buds in the house.

According to court records, Nachman and Fernandez rented the house where the marijuana was discovered. Nachman reportedly received the electricity bills. (Extraordinarily high usage of electricity at a residence often signals to law enforcement that marijuana cultivation is occurring at the location.)

Fernandez was arrested and charged with marijuana cultivation earlier this month.

Under Florida law, a marijuana cultivation/manufacturing charge is generally a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine if Fernandez and Nachman have no relevant criminal history.

Based on the news reports, it is unclear whether they were charged under Florida's Marijuana Grow House Eradication law. Florida law makes it a second-degree felony to grow 25 or more marijuana plants (the previous threshold was 300 plants). It is a third-degree felony to own a house for the purpose of cultivating, packaging and distributing marijuana and a first-degree felony to grow 25 or more plants in a home with children present.

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