Trial continues for man accused of operating marijuana grow house

Ricardo Varona, 43, claims he grew marijuana to help cancer-stricken wife


MIAMI – A South Florida man is on trial on accusations that he operated a marijuana grow house out of his home, although he claims he was only growing the drugs to help his cancer-stricken wife.

Maria Varona, 49, broke down once after telling the jury that the drug she takes to keep her cancer from coming back has tremendous side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea.

Varona was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and is now in remission.

She claims that she started using marijuana to deal with the side effects from the other drug she was prescribed.

Investigators claim that her husband, Ricardo Varona, 43, was growing marijuana in their southwest Miami-Dade County home.

Ricardo Varona said he was doing it to help his wife, but police claim he was dealing it.

According to detectives, 15 marijuana plants were found inside the home.

Bruce Vanaman, an advocate for medical marijuana and a cancer survivor, told the jury Thursday that what Varona was growing was just enough for personal consumption.

Vanaman's statement was based on evidence photos he was shown, but prosecutors questioned whether Vanaman really knew how many plants were being grown based on just pictures.

Varona's wife was also put on the spot when asked what other types of drugs she had taken to deal with the bad side effects.

Maria Varona was not able to recognize any of the drugs that the prosecutor named.

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