Giant Bundles of Marijuana Wash up on Florida Beaches

Giant bundles of marijuana, apparently containing individually wrapped five-kilo bricks, have been washing up on the shores of Florida since the approach of Hurricane Florence last week, possibly from a boat that was either capsized by the storm or an airplane drop that went awry.

This set off a minor ethical dilemma among the beachgoers of Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia counties in the Daytona Beach area: Does one grab the weed and run, or call the cops?

This moral quandary was best demonstrated in a 911 call to the Volusia County sheriff last Thursday morning, when a woman reported, “We’re at Jungle Hut (Park) and a huge bundle of drugs or something just washed up on the beach and there are people like fighting over it.” How many people? the call-taker inquired, according to a recording of the exchange. “There’s like seven or eight people out here,” the caller replied, “and they’re all like huddling up against it, and my dad’s trying to take it so that you guys can have it all.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and the caller noted that one fellow had removed a brick of suspected cannabis from the bundle and was still there. The deputies asked the man about this, according to their report, and he “pointed at his vehicle and stated that he was holding it for law enforcement’s arrival.”

The brick weighed about 11 pounds, wet. The man, Robert Kelley, 61, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana over 20 grams. Medical marijuana is legal in the Sunshine State, but “it’s illegal” for recreational use, sheriff’s spokeswoman Anna Hackett observed. Kelley was jailed and it was not clear whether he has retained a lawyer.

St. Johns Commander Chuck Mulligan said the shipment could have come from a boat that capsized in bad weather, or from an airplane drop where the pickup boat missed the target, or was simply dropped in the wrong place by the airborne delivery crew. Or someone being tracked by the Coast Guard may have tossed it overboard. “There’s a plethora of possibilities,” he said.

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