Heartache, pain, fuel local mom’s search for marijuana grow house

Ellen Snelling and her daughter. Family photo

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A local mother who watched her daughter battle a drug addiction that began with marijuana is on a mission to find out where medicinal marijuana will be grown in the Tampa Bay area. She thinks citizens have the right to know. Her passion is fueled by pain.

Ellen Snelling calls it the darkest, most painful time in her life. It is heartache she’ll never forget.  In fact, her eyes well with tears as she recalls the moments she nearly lost her daughter to addiction.

Years ago, Snelling witnessed a downward spiral in her once-vibrant teenager, brought on by drug-use. “It is deeply personal for me. This is about my daughter,” Snelling told WFLA. “And, her problems began with marijuana.” Snelling’s daughter moved on to cocaine, which led to other problems.

Ellen Snelling and her daughter. Family photo
Ellen Snelling and her daughter. Family photo

So, when the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance activist heard that pot was being cultivated legally at a state-sanctioned grow house, not far from her Temple Terrace home, she was shocked and angry.

“It was like they snuck this in without anyone knowing. And, I wanted to know more about it. But, I couldn’t find information anywhere,” she told us. “I just want to know where the grow house is, and so do other parents.”

Snelling has spent days, nights and weekends trying to find the address of the cultivation site. However, the documents online are heavily redacted.  “I will do almost anything to find out where this is. I’ve even gone driving up and down US Highway 41,” she said.

After calling leaders with the city, county and state, including the governor’s office, the mother of three felt frustrated. No one would answer her questions. She felt like the whole process of selecting the site has been sneaky and not transparent.

So, she called 8 on Your Side. “I am hoping you can help me get some answers,” she told us.  And we did. But, it was not an easy or transparent process.

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