Odor leaves department feeling green

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, SECTION: B; Pg. 9
BYLINE: Katherine Rosenberg, / 886-3778

Corpus Christi, TX

The last thing you would expect to smell in the police department is the strong odor of marijuana.

But that's what many visitors and even more employees dealt with for days after narcotics officers filled the evidence room with 2 pounds of hydroponic marijuana that needed to be dried, Capt. John Houston said.

Once the smell started giving employees headaches, officials realized they had to do something about the ventilation system in the first floor evidence room.

"It wasn't a problem when we were seizing regular pot, but hydroponic pot is so much more pungent," Houston said. "A 1-ounce bag of it was enough to fill the entire building with the scent for two days."

Houston said with more drug dealers opting to grow their own genetically enhanced marijuana indoors, investigators realized it was time to upgrade the ventilation system.

Officials hope that by mid-month they will have completed the renovation, which includes adding ventilation and bringing in vent hoods to rapidly clear the room of noxious smells. Officials also plan to start drying marijuana at an off-site location.

Officials estimate it will cost about $5,000 to fix the old ventilation system, which has been in place since the police department moved into the building in 1991, Houston said.

But because hydroponic marijuana seems to be an increasing trend, administrators thought it best to make improvements now to stay ahead of the problem.

"It's safety first," Houston said. "We called the fire department out to inspect, and the air quality is fine. It's not a health hazard. It's not like painting inside with the windows closed, but it was making employees lightheaded."

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