Marijuana raids have been a way of life in Pueblo County, a sparsely populated stretch of the high desert in southeastern Colorado.
Local and federal authorities were busy last year, seizing 22,000 pounds of illicit pot on one day in September alone. A few months before that, DEA agents working with local cops seized another 7,000 pounds and 1,400 plants, all supposedly bound for the black market out-of-state.
When police seize drugs, they often seize everything else found along with it. Money, cars, fancy toys—all of it’s fair game under asset forfeiture laws. Sometimes, police also take the equipment used to manufacture the drugs. In the case of outlaw cannabis cultivated indoors, this means grow lights, electrical ballasts and other expensive, in-demand weed-growing gear, just sitting in an evidence room, taking up space.
But once a case is settled and done with, it’s no longer evidence. It just takes up space.
So what’s Pueblo County to do with some perfectly good grow equipment, previously used to cultivate marijuana for sale, in violation of state and federal law? Sell it at auction—in all likelihood, to another, hopefully less-illegal marijuana grower.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported Tuesday that a local auctioneer has been asked by the county to sell off some of the grow equipment seized last year.
Apparently, the sheriff’s office brought the lights and other indoor grow equipment to the county purchasing office, wondering what to do with it. The county purchasing office had already enlisted auctioneer John Russell to sell off some unwanted government computers and electronics, so hosting yet another auction—this one for grow lights from an illegal marijuana operation—was the logical next step.
The auction itself is not yet a done deal.
County officials told the newspaper that they’re still “determining the most appropriate way to dispose of the property,” and haven’t yet turned the lights over for sale to the highest bidder—who will in all likelihood be another cannabis grower. But could also be someone in the lettuce or spinach business. The lights don’t have to be used to grow marijuana. Uh-huh.
Officials with the county sheriff are washing their hands of the whole affair, telling the newspaper that they’ll have “nothing to do with it” after the lights are sold—except for spending the money gleaned from the sale.
Russell, who runs an outfit called Top Bid Auction, is practical about it.
“The best thing to do is to turn it into money,” he told the paper. “The money goes to the county.”
So there you go. For sale: Grow lights. In working order. Only raided and seized once.