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Michigan Pot Farmer Edwin Schmieding's Probation Draws Ire From State Police

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Edwin Schmieding, 61, was caught growing 8,000 marijuana plants at his Lenawee County farm and greenhouse in 2011. On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, the pot farmer was sentenced to probation rather than prison. | Getty

DETROIT -- Probation for a southeastern Michigan farmer caught growing more than 8,000 marijuana plants is not "logical or reasonable" and sends the wrong message to people considering similar schemes, the head of an anti-drug task force said Wednesday.

Detective Lt. Robert Sinclair of the state police reacted a day later to the sentencing of Edwin Schmieding, who got an extraordinary break from a federal judge in Detroit.

Instead of prison, the Lenawee County man was placed on supervised release, or probation, for two years. He was arrested in 2011 after an investigation by a police task force in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties. Federal agents subsequently took over the case.

"It does not seem logical or reasonable to sentence a person growing this much marijuana to two years of probation, especially when it obviously was not for personal use but for monetary gain," said Sinclair, commander of the task force.

"We will continue to pursue all criminal activity including illegal marijuana growing operations," he said.

Schmieding, 61, began growing marijuana after raising cut flowers for years. His wife told police they wanted to sell it for use by people approved for medical marijuana, although large-scale production is illegal.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said Schmieding, who is recovering from cancer, deserved a break. The marijuana was not considered to be high quality and many plants were immature.

"It's inconsequential to me," Sinclair said. "It's marijuana, and it's being grown for profit. That's the way we look at it."

Friedman met privately with attorneys before the court hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Barrington Wilkins said he recommended a prison sentence. He declined to elaborate.

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