Marijuana Mom Out on Bail

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Last month, when a Scarsdale, NY, suburbanite was arrested for growing marijuana in a warehouse in Queens, comparisons were made to the television show “Weeds.”

The show told the fictional tale of a suburban mother who sells pot on the side to make a little money. The operation grows past all expectations in the show, and in this real-life case, Andrea Sanderlin is charged with being a “marijuana kingpin” because of more than 1,000 plants seized.

How big was the operation? The feds say Sanderlin had plants worth more than $3 million on the street. And they became suspicious when the electrical bills for the warehouse (as high as $9,000) were paid in cash.

Sanderlin’s half-million dollar bond was co-signed by four friends, including a hair stylist and a hair colorist, which raised suspicion with the judge.

"For all I know, she has millions of dollars or she could have a couple hundred dollars," Judge Steven M. Gold said at the bail hearing in federal court in Brooklyn. "She hasn't worked, but she's living in Scarsdale and driving a Mercedes. I can't add that up."

The court asked her to get signatures of family members for the bond in the next few days. The expectation is that family members will have more sway when the next court appearance comes up, making it less likely that Sanderlin will flee.

The problem, from the court’s point of view, is trying to figure out how much bond should be when assets from drug sales might be hidden. A half-million is a lot of money, but not so much if you have several million socked away. And Sanderlin is facing a decade in prison if she’s convicted – it’s a federal case put up by the DEA, not a state case.

New York doesn’t have any form of legal marijuana, not even for medical use. Their version of a medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Care Act, stalled in the state senate this last legislative session. But even under the proposed legislation, a warehouse full of weed wouldn’t be allowed.

There's one definite take-home message here: Marijuana is still big business, with a huge demand and large sums of money involved.

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