Baked baker: American man in Kaohsiung busted for growing marijuana in his home

Police arrest American pizza baker and English tutor in Kaohsiung for growing marijuana in his home

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K-9 officer and dog with seized items.

K-9 officer and dog with seized items. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- An American male pizza baker and English tutor has been arrested for growing marijuana in his home, announced Kaohsiung police yesterday (Dec. 14), reported CNA.

Kaohsiung police received a tip in October that a 63-year-old American pizza baker and English tutor, who was identified by his surname Cox, was growing marijuana in his home on Minzu 1st Road in Kaohsiiung City. After surveilling the man's home for two months, a team of police officers, including a K-9 unit with three sniffer dogs, raided his home on Dec. 3.

When police arrived on the scene, they found five mature marijuana plants, 807.1 grams of dried cannabis buds, 462.7 grams of cannabis paste, 484.45 grams of cannabis-infused rum, for a total of 1,751 grams. Also seized were plant lights, plant glue, driers, and assorted equipment used for growing cannabis. Police described the scene as an "underground marijuana factory."

During questioning by police, Cox admitted that he had cultivated marijuana plants in his living room by grafting ramets and using hydroponics. He claimed that the seeds for the plants were given to him by an American friend five years ago.

Cox said that it took him many years of trial and error before he was finally able to succeed in growing the plants and insisted that the home-grown marijuana and related products were for self-use, not for sale to others.

According to an initial police investigation, Cox has been living in Taiwan for 10 years and has obtained an Alien Permanent Resident Card (APRC), reported Liberty Times. According to the report, he told police that he had learned how to cultivate marijuana in college in the United States, but had not engaged in growing the category 2 narcotic until his friend gave him the seeds.

Police are looking over his statement and are expanding the investigation to trace the source and possible distribution of the marijuana. A spokesman for the Kaohsiung Police Department, Tung Hsing-yen (董行彥), said initial estimated market value of the seized marijuana is NT$200,000 (US$6,500), reported Apple Daily.

After completing police questioning, Cox was transferred to the Prosecutor's Office on charges of violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).

Unlike certain U.S. states and some Western countries where it is allowed for medical or recreational purposes, marijuana is still an illegal drug in Taiwan. Due to a spate of arrests of Americans for possession of marijuana in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (U.S. de facto embassy in the country) in March of last year posted a reminder to American citizens "that penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana) in Taiwan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines."