Man claims police harassing him over legal grow house

by: Tom Regan Updated:

Smithwick said he does not grow, sell or smoke marijuana and uses the equipment to cultivate mostly tropical plants and flowers.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - A Gwinnett County homeowner said police were off target when they searched his home looking for marijuana plants in basement grow rooms.

"They said, 'Just say you had plants and you moved them someplace else.' And I just kept telling them the truth. There was never a marijuana garden here," said Scott Smithwick.

Smithwick has set up high intensity lamps, fans and a watering system in two basement rooms in the Lawrenceville home that he shares with his father. He said he does not grow, sell or smoke marijuana and uses the equipment to cultivate mostly tropical plants and flowers.

"I'm a plant freak. Inside I grow banana plants, orchids, and other tropical plants," Smithwick told Channel 2's Tom Regan.

Several weeks ago, police went to his home twice, the second time with a search warrant. They said they had information that he was producing marijuana. Smithwick said he asked if he could videotape officers while they search his home and was told no.

"The sergeant became extremely hostile. His response was, 'Are you serious? I'll handcuff you and detain you in that chair,'" Smithwick said. "They were convinced I had a marijuana garden in here and had just gotten rid of it."

Smithwick said when police found no marijuana they threatened to arrest him for having equipment and materials that could be used to grow pot.

'The sergeant told me based on (the) fertilizers and the lights in the room, I could be charged with manufacturing marijuana and held without bond and sent to prison," Smithwick said.

Smithwick said the threats and intimidation by investigators amounted to harassment.

"As a member of this community, a taxpayer and a voter, I think I deserve some answers," Smithwick said.

Regan emailed Gwinnett police for a comment. A representative told him the complaint is now under investigation and they could not comment on the allegations until the investigation is completed.

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