A lawyer in Champaign, the ninth largest city in Illinois, was busted after police discovered dozens of cannabis plants at his home on August 20 2019. Illinois legalised cannabis for recreational purposes as of January 1 2020. This, however, permits a maximum of five plants.

Downtown Champaign. Photo: Beyond My Ken

Downtown Champaign. Photo: Beyond My Ken

The sentence

The address of 55-year-old Andrew Allen is publicly listed as the 1800 block of Bridgestone Drive. The sentence he received on Friday 26 March 2021 was two years of probation and 30 hours of public service. He must also undergo a substance abuse evaluation. He will escape conviction upon successfully completing this. He also had to pay a fine of $9,060. This was the street value of the plants as determined by Judge Randy Rosenbaum. Allen’s attorney and the assistant state’s attorney couldn’t agree on the amount.

How he got caught

Police with a warrant searched Allen’s home on the basis of a CrimeStoppers tip from someone who informed them that, for the last decade, Allen had been growing cannabis and selling it by the pound. Neighbours had also complained about the amount of traffic in and out of the house. Allen was not at home when police called. Someone else answered the door, and police noticed a strong smell of cannabis. This caused them to secure a search warrant which they enforced later that day.

It was initially reported that Allen was growing cannabis to the tune of 146 plants, mostly in his garage but also in a bedroom cupboard. He admitted to less than 50 in a plea deal. Officer Lance Carpenter of the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force described the operation, with lights, a heater and ventilation and a video and audio surveillance system, as “very sophisticated” when compared to other cannabis farms he had witnessed in the course of around two years of undercover work.

The number of plants led police to believe Allen was not only growing cannabis but selling it. Jim Dedman, Allen’s lawyer, declared, “I have known Andrew Allen a long time. He is not a drug dealer.” Allen is, according to Dedman, just “an obsessive agriculturalist” who was contemplating obtaining a licence to grow cannabis as a hobby.

Allen is a lawyer specialising in personal injury whose office is in Champaign. He obtained a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1990. Bob Dylan wrote the song Champaign, Illinois in 1969.

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