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Growth industry? Suburban mom allegedly ran $3 million marijuana business. (+video)

A woman from upper-class Scarsdale, N.Y., is charged with growing pot in a Queens warehouse. That would be illegal, but it points to the possibilities of the legal marijuana industry as states legalize the drug.

By Chelsea B. SheasleyCorrespondent / June 5, 2013

This file photo shows a medical marijuana plant at a dispensary in Seattle. A woman in New York was charged Wednesday with running a marijuana-growing operation.

Ted S. Warren/AP/File

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A Scarsdale, N.Y., woman living in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes has been charged with running a $3 million illegal marijuana operation in what authorities say appears to be a real-life example of the Showtime show “Weeds.”

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Asia Editor

Chelsea Sheasley is the Monitor's Asia Editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.

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New York suburban mother of two Andrea Sanderlin has been charged with running a multi-million-dollar drug business. "CTM" co-hosts Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King report.

So far, little is known about the motivation of Andrea Sanderlin, the suburban mom accused by the Drug Enforcement Administration of growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants in a Queens warehouse. But her arrest comes at a time when the business of marijuana is evolving as states consider legalizing the drug. 

Despite marijuana still being illegal under federal law, a new breed of entrepreneurs is betting on marijuana as a legitimate business venture.

A federal complaint against Ms. Sanderlin, the mother of two daughters age 3 and 13, was filed on May 20 after agents were tipped off by exceptionally high electricity bills. Special Agent David Lee of the DEA, who filed the complaint, says law-enforcement agents entered the warehouse using a search warrant and found two rooms designed to grow marijuana. He says each room had state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation, and ventilation systems.

Ms. Sanderlin pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn without bail. “She’s never been in trouble before,” her lawyer, Joel Winograd, told the New York Daily News. “It’s rare that you get a woman accused of running a grow house.” 

Sanderlin’s case has drawn wide comparisons to the hit Showtime series “Weeds” in the media. In that show, actress Mary-Louise Parker’s character was a suburban mom in charge of a major marijuana-growing operation.

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