Sullivan County

Schools receive unique police donation

Items were once part of marijuana growing operation

Marijuana equipment donated

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - An elaborate indoor marijuana growing operation is going from evidence to education.

Labs seized last year by local and federal officers while investigating marijuana production in Johnson City and Sullivan County are being donated to teach students about growing plants.

"It was pretty sophisticated," says United States Attorney William Killian. "Obviously the defendant knew what he was doing."

One lab will be added to the horticulture program at Sullivan East High School.

The students are already growing some plants, but the teacher says this donation will tremendously expand his program. "This is much more elaborate than we could ever have in the classroom," says Michael Smith.

The Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City is also receiving a donation. Students have been involved in the community gardens there for four years, but officials say this will keep their program going year round.

Each unit is valued at more than $20,000.

Sullivan East students got their first glimpse at the unit Wednesday morning.

But there is one obvious question -- since the equipment was once used to grow illegal drugs, are authorities not worried about teaching that skill to students? "The lesson I would say is where is the person growing the pot? The answer is federal penitentiary," answered Killian.

The man convicted of running the marijuana operation was sentenced last month to 5 years in federal prison.

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