Man gets 60 days in jail for growing pot

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A 22-year-old Steamboat Springs man has been sentenced to 60 days in jail on charges of growing 14 marijuana plants.

In November, Ryan William Wheaton was arrested after law enforcement officials received a tip that he was cultivating marijuana in his home at Walton Pond Apartments.

Wheaton was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana, a Class 5 felony, possessing marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing a Schedule 2 substance.

Wheaton pleaded guilty to the felony charge of manufacturing marijuana and received a two-year deferred sentence. If Wheaton complies with probation for those two years, the felony charge would be dropped, and he would not be sentenced for the crime.

Wheaton also pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor charge. District Court Judge Michael O'Hara sentenced him to 60 days in jail.

O'Hara expressed concern about the fact that in between the time Wheaton entered his guilty plea and had a sentencing hearing, he tested positive for illegal drug use.

"It was such a bad sign to test positive for a controlled substance after a guilty plea. It would be unlikely you would succeed on probation. I share that concern," O'Hara said.

Wheaton said he now realized the seriousness of the situation and the penalty that comes with it.

"This is a wakeup call. Prior to the pre-sentence investigation, I did not understand the seriousness of what took place," he said.

On Nov. 16, officials with the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team followed up on a Crime Stoppers tip and obtained a search warrant for Wheaton's apartment in the 800 block of Weiss Drive. When the door to the apartment was open, officers could smell an overwhelming odor of marijuana.

A search of the apartment found 14 marijuana plants being cultivated. GRAMENT also found drug paraphernalia.

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