At 75, Estes pointed to a long history of poor health as his reason for growing the drug. He said he has had multiple heart operations, including eight bypasses and was on highly-addicting pain medication for a long period of time.
“I went through hell to get myself off those pills,” Estes said, adding that he turned to marijuana for painkilling purposes.
When asked if it was legal to grow marijuana in Tennessee, for any reason, Estes agreed that he has broken the law.
“It’s not legal to grow, I broke the law on that,” Estes admitted.
However, Estes said statements made by Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen were incorrect and those statements have “smeared” him. Bowen, who was not at the scene, said he was going by his experience in law enforcement and the information gathered by investigators who were at the scene.
“We seized nine mature marijuana plants, and I don’t think you’re going to use that for personal use,” Bowen said.
He also said Estes could get “several pounds” off each grow, but it depended on the growing cycle. Based on what detectives wrote in their report and photographs of the plants and the operation, Bowen said Estes “really looked like he knew what he was doing.”
Estes claimed the marijuana was being grown in a small closet, approximately 2-feet-by-6-feet, and the amount of drugs the police said were being grown is not true. He said there was no way you could grow that amount of marijuana in such a small space.
“You cannot get that much, I got about 2-1/2 ounces off of it, and that’s for my personal use,” Estes said.
Bowen said detectives at the scene were told by Estes that he was growing the marijuana with the intention of selling it to pay rent. Estes claims those statements are false and he was “misquoted” by the authorities.
Estes said he is receiving Social Security and is unable to pay his rent, and is therefore unable to pay for marijuana from a dealer, so he decided to grow it himself. He said he bought a book that told him how to grow the plants.
“I grew it because I can’t afford to buy it,” Estes said, adding he had not been growing it for a long time as authorities claimed. “They want to accuse me of selling it, but they have no proof of that.”
Estes said other states that view marijuana as a medicinal drug with positive benefits are more “progressive” than Tennessee. He said he used marijuana as a painkiller as opposed to addictive pills.
“I have been growing it because it’s been recognized across the country by medical experts as an effective painkiller,” Estes said.
When asked if he wanted to comment on Estes’ statements, Bowen said he hasn’t debated with someone accused of growing marijuana and he didn’t want to start, however, he did say assumptions were a part of law enforcement.
“Part of police work is you give me pieces of information and I put that case together. There are assumptions in law enforcement,” Bowen said.
Bowen said he reported facts exactly as they appeared in the police report and according to what the detectives told him. He felt it was odd that Estes doesn’t have enough money to pay rent but will spend money on the marijuana plants and supplies required to grow it.
Bowen said photos showed there was potting soil, Miracle Grow, heat lamps, aluminum foil on the walls and plants that measured at least 4 feet tall in Estes’ home where the marijuana was growing.
“It is a felony to grow marijuana,” Bowen pointed out, adding that regardless of the reason, it’s still against the law.
“I’ve got guys that have been in narcotics investigation for 20-plus years and have to go by their expertise,” Bowen said.
Editor’s Note: Estes, also known as Jack Remington, and his wife perform Americana songs and have appeared locally in concert.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at email@example.com.