Misguided Cops Make Huge Mistakes When Raiding Supposed "Grow Shows" - Current News About Marijuana

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Former CIA employees living in Kansas, opened their door on April 20, 2012, to find a team of sheriff's deputies armed with assault weapons and bulletproof vests with a warrant to search their house for marijuana. The Hartes and their two children were detained and held at gunpoint while law enforcement raided their house. They found three tomato plants, one melon plant and two butternut squash plants growing in a basement hydroponic gardening setup built by Harte and his 13-year-old son, whom officers reportedly accused of being a pothead.
In November 2013, the Hartes filed a lawsuit against county officials, including the sheriff, alleging the only intelligence that could have led to the raid was a trip by Harte and his son to a gardening store and his wife's "brewing of loose tea leaves that they discarded in the trash." The lawsuit, seeking $7 million in damages, claims deputies failed to do a proper investigation to follow up on whether the family was actually growing marijuana.

The Hartes aren't alone in questioning whether such police techniques don't risk effectively criminalizing gardening. A few states over in Illinois, Angela Kirking, a face-paint artist, was also caught up in part of the same multi-state garden store operation last year. Three weeks after being observed by an officer leaving a local shop with a "green plastic bag containing unknown items," Drug Enforcement Administration agents, guns drawn, raided her house before 5 a.m., eventually turning up enough marijuana for a misdemeanor possession charge.

Kirking claimed she had visited the garden store to buy fertilizer for a hibiscus plant, and sued to have the search warrant thrown out. She argued that an innocent trip to a garden store shouldn't have served on its own as grounds for an investigation, which included officers rooting through her trash to find a small quantity of marijuana stems and examining her electric bills to conclude they were higher than normal. A county judge later ruled against Kirking.
In August 2013, police in Arlington, Texas, conducted a SWAT raid on the Garden of Eden, a small organic farm that had clashed with its neighbors, who claimed the property wasn't clean enough.

The Arlington Police Department also reported receiving complaints that marijuana was being grown on the premises, a tip they pursued with aerial surveillance and a visit by an undercover officer that led to an unsubstantiated claim that a resident of the farm was in possession of marijuana. Despite the seemingly flimsy evidence, police then conducted a 10-hour raid, in which employees of the farm were reportedly handcuffed and held at gunpoint for at least 30 minutes. Officers came away with "17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants ... native grasses and sunflowers." No weed.

The would-be drug bust was itself a total bust, but police officials defended their actions because the militarized crackdown did lead to the correction of code violations, for which the city took the Garden of Eden to court earlier this year.

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