Judge reduces Marijuana charges against former Chico police officer
Prosecutors allege Rush contributed to delinquency of minor.
A former Chico Police Department officer had his felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor during a preliminary hearing in Butte County Superior Court in Oroville Tuesday, according to a press release.
Prosecutors alleged that 49-year-old former officer Nicholas Lee Rush had provided marijuana and marijuana products to a 17-year-old family member, and that the girl was encouraged to sell some of those drugs to Rush’s adult girlfriend.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the allegations stem from an investigation into activity occurring at defendant Rush’s home in 2022.
At the hearing, a district attorney’s investigator testified that, in August 2022, the defendant’s ex-wife provided text messages shared between Rush and the minor that were on the minor’s cell phone, according to the release from the DA’s Office. The messages included pictures of marijuana plants growing in Rush’s backyard.
Ramsey said the messages included the girl requesting that Rush care for the minor’s backyard marijuana plants, including watering them and moving them around to maximize the amount of sunlight they received. Rush also lent the girl money to purchase a portable greenhouse in which to grow marijuana.
Another text conversation included Rush asking the minor if Rush’s girlfriend could obtain a “dab” — concentrated cannabis — from the minor’s supply. Messages between the minor and Rush’s girlfriend detailed multiple sales of marijuana between the minor and the girlfriend, according to the release.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, Ramsey said his prosecutor argued that Rush was actively helping her to grow — and therefore, possess — the marijuana. The prosecutor asserted this because Rush was doing more than just passively allowing the minor to grow the marijuana in his yard.
In addition, the text messages allegedly showed Rush was facilitating sales between the minor and his girlfriend, according to the release.
However, Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems ruled there was insufficient evidence that Rush committed a felony count of furnishing or selling marijuana to a minor. The judge did find sufficient proof that Rush committed a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
According to the release, Deems agreed with the prosecutor that allowing the minor to illegally cultivate marijuana was tantamount to allowing her to commit a crime.
Rush will next be in court Oct. 5 to set a date for his trial on the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Ramsey said Rush is not an active officer with the Chico Police Department.