Trooper search warrant finds Nome pair with 21 pot plants, $32k in marijuana

An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.
An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

Alaska State Troopers said two Nome-area residents are facing drug charges after they say they found an illegal marijuana grow in their Dexter and Triple Creek-area home.

Troopers with the Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team—or WAANT—wrote in an online dispatch they executed a search warrant into a home outside the Nome subdivision Thursday.

It was the home of 53-year-old Anthony Shelp and 34-year-old Esther Olanna. Troopers said the investigation found 21 mature marijuana plants being grown in two separate areas of the house.

They also found six immature starter plants, about one pound of “bud” marijuana, and various pieces of grow equipment, including lights, timers, chemicals, and more.

Troopers said the pair was at the home during the search but were not arrested.

The nearly two dozen plants yielded about 2.3 pounds of dry, processed marijuana, which Troopers said has a value on the streets of Nome around $32,000.

A voter referendum decriminalized marijuana in November, changing state law to allow for up to six flowering marijuana plants and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. A 1975 state Supreme Court case, Ravin v. Alaska, saw the court rule that an individual’s right to privacy under the state constitution includes the right to use and consume a personal, non-commercial amount of marijuana.

Both Shelp and Olanna were already on release, with court-specified conditions, for prior offenses. Troopers said charges for the marijuana grow—including misconduct involving a controlled substance and violating conditions of their release—have been sent to the district attorney’s office.