68°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Detective: Las Vegas man had ‘way’ more medical pot than allowed

If Steven Ficano had anywhere near the amount of pot allowed by his medical marijuana card, police simply would have confiscated the drug and let him off with a stern warning, a Las Vegas detective testified Wednesday.

What police found at Ficano’s northwest valley residence considerably surpassed the legal limit: a total of 68 growing plants, 18 mason jars of pot on the bedroom floor, 50 jars of pot in a wine cooler, 40 jars in a freezer, and 67 jars in a refrigerator, with smaller amounts scattered around the house. The finished product weighed 24 pounds; the plants weighed 28 pounds.

The lead detective in the case, Brian Grammas, said he sought a warrant for Ficano’s arrest after the now 65-year-old let police inside his home in October 2012.

Ficano, who didn’t think he committed a crime, had a medical marijuana card and a note from his doctor that said he could possess more than the ounce of weed patients were allowed at the time.

But Ficano is on trial on felony charges of possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell, just as Nevada’s first medical marijuana dispensary is expected to open up shop.

A jury could decide Ficano’s fate as early as this afternoon. Meanwhile, a co-owner of Euphoria Wellness, about 12 miles away from the Regional Justice Center where Ficano’s trial is being held, said the dispensary could open this week.

In Nevada, possession of less than an ounce of weed without a medical marijuana card is a misdemeanor. Anything more is a felony.

Medical marijuana has been legal since 2000, but cardholders were forced to grow their own pot until last year, when the law allowing dispensaries was passed. For now, cardholders can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and not more than 12 marijuana plants.

Ficano told police he had a note from his doctor, Ivan Goldsmith, that would allow him to possess 29 plants and 2 to 4 pounds of finished marijuana. At the time, anyone with a medical marijuana license was required to grow the plant at home.

“After looking out at the backyard, there was way greater than that number of plants,” Grammas told jurors.

The officers wanted to look inside a safe in Ficano’s bedroom, so he opened it for them. Inside, he had $51,667 in cash, 14 handguns, eight rifles and four shotguns, according to a police report. A digital scale sat in the garage. The cash and the guns were seized.

The detective said the cash was in small denominations, and the evidence suggested that Ficano might be selling the drug.

But Grammas also told jurors that he found no pay sheet in Ficano’s home and detectives did not try to search his cellphone.

Until his arrest in 2012 on the marijuana charges, Ficano had no criminal record.

Jay Acebo, a Las Vegas firefighter who has lived across the street from Ficano for 26 years, testified Wednesday that he had never seen anything that would indicate his neighbor was selling drugs.

Acebo called Ficano a “regular blue-collar guy,” who often wears shorts and a T-shirt.

Acebo knew Ficano grew tomatoes but did not know he also harvested marijuana plants in his backyard.

Prosecutor Lindsey Moors has said that other neighbors called police concerned about the plants in Ficano’s yard.

The guns were antique lever-action rifles, collectible pistol sets and historical muskets, Ficano’s lawyer Dustin Marcello argued.

The money was a mix of antique currency, bills from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s and a career’s worth of saved cash Ficano had pulled out of his bank account during the recession, the defense attorney said. Some of the pot had been stored in the jars so long that it had grown moldy. Most of the plants were either male or too immature to produce buds.

For 36 years, Ficano ran a furniture repair business. He developed arthritis and has scoliosis. Ficano also used pot to alleviate lingering pain from a car accident several years ago, Marcello said.

After the crash, Ficano was prescribed painkillers and became addicted. Medical marijuana helped him kick that addiction.

Goldsmith, the doctor who prescribed medical pot for Ficano, said he did not intend to authorize as much as police found at the residence.

Marcello suggested that Ficano grew more than what was allowed because he only planted once a year and struggled to learn how to convert the plant into an edible form.

Toward the end of testimony on Tuesday, Marcello asked Goldsmith why he would prescribe marijuana instead of another drug.

The doctor replied: “The times are changing.”

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
THE LATEST
Officials raid 247 Colorado homes growing black market pot

Authorities said Friday they raided hundreds of black market marijuana operations in Colorado that flouted the state’s cannabis law by growing tens of thousands of plants in Denver-area homes and selling the drugs out of state.

Governor announces plan to legalize marijuana in Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday he’s reached an agreement with key lawmakers on a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state starting next year.