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February 20th, 2013 MITCH LILLIE | Featured Stories
 

Tales From the Weed Vault

Inside the city’s biggest pot stash: the Portland Police Bureau’s evidence warehouse.

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The best pot stash in town is stored deep in the tangled concrete jungle of the Northwest Industrial District.

One problem, though: Its keepers are bogarting the good stuff.

The Portland Police Evidence Warehouse, at 2619 Northwest Industrial Street, is where your precious weed and beloved bong Big Thunder go to live when the cops kidnap them. Even being a medical-marijuana card holder won’t get your green back—former Attorney General John “Reedie Stomper” Kroger issued a memo saying federal law allows the local 5-0 to hang on to your stuff, even when your glaucoma is flaring up and you’re in terrible pain.

Bummer. WW scheduled visiting hours with the headiest, dankest and greenest items in the evidence warehouse. They’ll remain here until trial, after which they’ll be destroyed “as soon as possible.”


1. Submachine Gun Pipe

Getting high is one thing, but putting the business end of a machine-gun-shaped pipe in your mouth is something else. According to police, that’s what a suspect identified as “Shorty” was doing when officers Schroeder and Lance strolled up on him and his friends hanging out on the sidewalk near Southeast Pine Street and 11th Avenue one Saturday night. He put the gun down, but the clink of glass on concrete set the officers’ ears on edge. “Please don’t take my weed!” Shorty reportedly begged. His whole stash was eventually confiscated, including a bag with just eight buds and a small container of “shake marijuana.” As police gathered the evidence, according to the report, the gun was still smoking. 


2. Lights and Ballasts

Grow rooms require a lot of gear. And when they get busted, the cops get that gear. “We have hundreds of these lights and ballasts, and they’re all worth a couple hundred bucks each,” says Dave Benson (pictured), manager of the Portland Police Bureau’s evidence stash. On Craigslist, the cops could turn a tidy little profit with these rigs. But putting them at a public auction would probably lead to continued use by marijuana growers. So, instead, the cops allow the state to buy them. “These sales aren’t advertised widely, only to government agencies with a legitimate use—an elementary school for example,” says Benson, adding the schools are “well aware that they come from illicit sources.” To date, only 10 lights, three ballasts and two fans have been sold for a total of $250. What to do now? “Maybe we can sell them to Washington,” Benson says.


3. Weed Vault

In the back corner of the evidence warehouse is the highly guarded treasure room of this palace, lined top to bottom with green gold. Cops call it “the weed vault.” Two members of the staff must simultaneously tag their IDs in order for the doors to open, and as a rule there must always be a 1-to-1 ratio of police to visitors. The vault contains “thousands of plants and thousands of pounds of marijuana,” Benson says. Rows of plants hang upside down in burlap sacks, just as in a meat locker. Fans circulate the air, just like they would in a grow operation, because the mold is deadly. A 15-foot-high wall—located directly opposite a crate of handguns—is stacked with large vacuum-sealed bags of dried weed, which are torched by a Salem incinerator three times a year. “We burn it as often as we can,” Benson says. “It just doesn’t stop.” 


4. Adorable Frog Bong

This bong, featuring a small tree frog clinging to the bowl, was the most aesthetically pleasing we found. Its alleged former owner, though, is a juvenile, so the police report cannot be released. A tipster told us the bong was probably the work of Eugene’s highly respected Special K Creations, whose bosses were not available for comment. A sharp-eyed employee at House of Pipes on Northeast Broadway says it’s probably a knockoff. “It would have to have a special engraving around the top,” says a tobacco-pipe salesman. “It looks like a Chinese imitation to me.” 

 
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