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Marijuana left as payment for produce

Farm could do away with “honor system”
By: Amber Marra, Journal staff writer
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For the past two months, there has been a very simple system at Tumbling Creek Ranch in Ophir.

Michelle Murray and her husband, Dave, grow butternut squash and pumpkins, collect the fresh eggs their chickens lay and make soap out of goats milk.

These items have all been for sale at the roadside stand at 10490 Wise Road in Auburn available for anyone who passes by to take on an honor system.

That means customers can take what they want as long as they leave their payment in a small lockbox near the stand.

"It's been working great for two months," Murray said.

That was until Thursday night when a six-months-pregnant Murray came home from prenatal yoga class to find four pumpkins, two dozen eggs, one bar of goat milk soap and two bottles of liquid goat milk soap gone.

Initially, she was thrilled to see so much taken-that's $51 worth of goods.

"It was dark and I noticed some of the pumpkins were gone, so I got excited because I thought we sold some pumpkins," Murray said.

When she checked the lockbox where payments are usually deposited, she was sorely disappointed. Instead of the $51 she was owed, Murray found a handful of marijuana inside an otherwise empty box.

In the darkness she didn't recognize what it was at first glance.

"I just kind of threw it on the ground and thought ‘I'm missing all of this stuff and all I have are these pieces of tree,'" she said. "I came out later with a flashlight and figured out what it was."

At that point, Murray called the Placer County Sheriff's Office and filed a report. She said the deputy took the marijuana and told her to wash her hands.

"You never know what could be on it," she said.

Due to the incident, the Murrays are considering removing everything from their roadside stand based on the honor system, except for the eggs.

"I was extremely disappointed. I was really hoping the honor system would work and we could trust everyone," Murray said. "Now I feel like we have to remove everything and all these people who have been honest have to suffer."

For now, they'll sell off the vegetables they have on display, but after that the stand might be reduced to just eggs, if that.

The humor in the situation is not lost on Murray, however.

"It was kind of funny. I have to admit that after I was disappointed I was kind of laughing," Murray said.

Dena Erwin, public information officer with the Placer County Sheriff's Office, said any tips on who took the produce and left marijuana as a payment can call Placer County Crime Stoppers anonymously at (800) 923-8191.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.