WOONSOCKET — A local couple is facing felony drug charges after police found them in possession of a greater number of marijuana plants than allowed under their state Department of Health medical marijuana permits.
Police arrested John Soares, 46, and Patricia Molyneaux, 38, on charges of cultivating marijuana and manufacturing and possessing marijuana with intent to deliver, after finding a marijuana growing room in their Front Street apartment Wednesday.
Patrolman Matthew R. Richarson reported that he and Patrolman Jamie Martin and Sgt. Edward Cunanan went to the couple's home at about 11 a.m. to investigate a possible assault and located the growing room off the kitchen while making a protective sweep of the apartment.
The room was found to contain 98 plants growing in pots and buckets, including a large number of mature plants, according to Richardson.
Soares and Molyneaux stated they both held medical marijuana cards issued by the state Department of Health and maintained their possession of the plants to be legal.
Richardson said he contacted the Department of Health and the R.I. Attorney General's office to research the state's medical marjiuana law and determined that state medical marjiuana permits allow eligible individuals to possess 12 mature marijuana plants and 12 seedling plants.
"The total we had observed and counted was easily beyond that number," Richardson reported.
As a result of the police officer's research of the law, Sgt. Cunanan contacted the department's Vice Squad detectives to conduct a further investigation. The police officers also notified the Attorney General’s Office of their intent to charge the couple in connection with their possession of the marijuana plants. Soares and Molyneaux were transported to the police station for processing on the felony charges while the detectives obtained a warrant for further search of their apartment, Richardson said. The plants were subsequently removed from the apartment and stored for evidence along with related equipment.