Sometimes, Americans everywhere get to see just how ridiculous the fight against marijuana has become. One such incident recently occurred in which the Massachusetts government felt justified spending thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to hunt down cannabis plants being grown by definitively harmless individuals.
On September 21st, 2016, Massachusetts National Guard and State Police entered the yard of Margaret Holcomb in South Amherst to chop down her single cannabis plant. The raid came with military helicopter support, and yet did not come with any official warrant.
Raids on marijuana farms happen all over the country, but this particular incident was different. Margaret Holcomb is an 81 year old grandmother suffering from glaucoma and insomnia. The single plant she was growing was for personal use and hidden from public view (but visible from aerial perspectives).
Margaret was not home at the time, but her son and daughter were eating lunch when authorities came onto the property. While authorities did not produce a warrant, they did tell Margaret’s son Tim Holcomb that if the marijuana plant was handed over immediately, no criminal charges would be filed. Amherst’s local police chief says their department was unaware that the operation was being conducted.
Again, incidents similar to the September 21st raid at the Holcomb residence are happening all over, but in just one months time, voters in Massachusetts will be heading to the polls to vote on complete cannabis legalization. A recent poll showed that 53 percent of likely Massachusetts voters support legalization. Even though Margaret Holcomb does not have a medical marijuana recommendation in Massachusetts, something about this situation feels off. Why?
For starters, Mrs. Holcomb was clearly not running an illegal for-profit cannabis cultivation operation. This was a grandmother suffering from typical senior ailments growing a single plant for personal use, and having that plant seized without a warrant.
Secondly, how could anyone within the Massachusetts State Police or National Guard authorize public funds to be thrown away so carelessly? Helicopter fuel typically runs at $2,000 per hour of flight, which combined with the salaries of agents conducting the search, means this operation cost taxpayers a substantial amount.
Finally, after the day was done and 44 plants were confiscated, these enforcement agencies had made zero arrests. Had law enforcement uncovered an environmentally-damaging grow operation with hundreds of plants meant for black market sale, Massachusetts may have been able to justify this operation.
But not one person was charged with a crime. With one bad decision, Massachusetts just singlehandedly proved that cannabis is harmless and police enforcement is a waste of resources across the board.
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