Vermont marijuana grower not deterred by theft of legal plants

Published: Aug. 23, 2018 at 5:00 PM EDT
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The search is on for a cannabis crook in the Northeast Kingdom after a local man told state police his pot plants were stolen from his backyard last week.

Joshua Newcity says thousands of dollars worth of cannabis was stolen from the backyard of his East Charleston home on Thursday, and he and others say it probably won't be the last time it happens.

"Really sad -- it was, and frustrating, and it really instilled a sense of insecurity," Newcity said.

He says he's getting ready to open his new CBD business in Newport. The hemp plants there look similar to the four cannabis plants that were stolen from him a week ago -- some from his own backyard.

"To find the plants behind a pretty tall privacy fence -- it took a little bit of work -- and we're kind of out in the country," Newcity said.

For security he has his dogs and cameras set up outside his home, but neither were enough to deter the thief. Newcity estimates each plant would have produced at least half a pound of cannabis, which could be worth thousands in a medical marijuana dispensary.

"Nobody's going to want to do their own work. They want someone else to do their work for them, so you can get it for free," said Aaron Wheeler of Newport.

Vermont State Police are investigating the theft -- something that wouldn't have even been reported before Vermont's legalization law went into effect July 1st.

"We investigate this theft really as we would the theft of any reported stolen property," said Vermont State Police spokesman Adam Silverman.

State Police say this is the first reported case of stolen cannabis plants they've recorded. Newcity believes theft will become more frequent. "Most people take the plant when it's budding and they just take scissors or rip it out of the ground and walk away with it, so it's going to happen a lot more, sadly," he said.

He says he's turned down offers of free plants from the growing community because he fears they will just be stolen again.

For now he's investing more in security and suggests motion sensing cameras and lights for outdoor growing. "I'd say nothing beats a dog, but it did this time," Newcity said.