A 66-year-old Bluffton man was charged with marijuana trafficking this week after Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigators found more than 100 plants in his yard.
Frank Dennis Peters turned himself in Tuesday after investigators found 137 marijuana plants growing in pots May 30 in the backyard of his home on Parkside Drive in the Woodbridge subdivision, Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.
Peters said Wednesday he was growing the marijuana for his wife, who suffers from several medical conditions, among them fibromyalgia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
His wife of 40 years is on many medications and treatments, and the marijuana improves her appetite and helps her sleep, Peters said.
"I have a moral obligation to make my wife as comfortable as possible," he said.
McIntosh said neighbors saw what they believed to be marijuana growing in Peters' backyard and notified investigators.
However, Peters said his next-door neighbors knew about the plants and were not concerned. He believes that someone attending a recent party at a neighbor's home notified authorities.
Peters cooperated with Sheriff's Office investigators, allowing them to collect the plants for analysis, McIntosh said.
Peters said he allowed them inside his house voluntarily and offered them coffee while they confiscated the plants. McIntosh said Peters told investigators he had been growing marijuana for personal and medicinal use, but did not offer further details.
Investigators allowed Peters time to make arrangements for the care of his wife because he is her sole caregiver, McIntosh said. Peters said his wife rarely leaves the home and cannot be left alone for longer than a few hours because of the treatments she needs.
Investigators arranged for Peters to turn himself in, after the plants were confirmed to be marijuana. Peters was released Tuesday from the Beaufort County Detention Center on his own recognizance.
Medical marijuana is legal in South Carolina, but only if it is obtained from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, under a law passed in 1980.
However, DHEC has never distributed marijuana, a department spokesman told Savannah television station WSAV last month.