Cops bust yet another tomato grower

Police in Pullman, Wash., got a tip from a “concerned citizen” that a grow operation was going on in an apartment that he’d just visited. Two hours later, police had their search warrant, and eight police officers went in, guns drawn.

It was indeed a grow operation. The residents were growing tomatoes.

The two people who had tipped off the police were there earlier in the day to view the apartment, and told police that they saw marijuana under grow lights in a closet, smelled burnt marijuana, and that the residents were acting nervous.

Apparently these two have never seen tomato plants before. They look nothing like marijuana plants. But they apparently somehow convinced the cops.

Robert Barry, a senior civil engineering major, stood in shock as police searched his apartment for a suspected marijuana growth. . . .

Roommate Jacin Davis, a senior business administration major, said he was sitting on the couch watching television and did not understand how he could have come across as nervous nor how they would have smelled marijuana. . . .

“They went straight to the closet and saw tomatoes,” Barry said. “They regrouped for a second and then searched the rest of the apartment visually.” Barry said the officers found nothing and even threatened to bring dogs back to search the apartment further.

“They must have felt stupid by then,” he said. — Daily Evergreen

Remember when I said “yet another”? This sort of thing happens all the time. Reason senior editor and former Cato Institute policy analyst Radley Balko explains:

I feel like a broken record on this stuff. But this isn’t the first time people have had their homes raided over misidentified plants. Hell, it’s not even the first time it’s happened with tomatoes. I’ve also found several home invasion raids after a citizen or police officer mistook hibiscus plants for marijuana. There was the time that police in Bel Aire, Kansas raided the home of the town’s former mayor after mistaking a sunflower plant for marijuana (the sunflower is also the state flower of Kansas). In 2002, police in Travis County, Texas brought a helicopter to raid the home of Sandra Smith, during which they awoke her and her roommates to the sight of guns pointed at their heads. The marijuana they were after turned out to be ragweed. And there’s Ed and Jan Carden, an Orlando couple raided when police mistook elderberry bushes for marijuana.

Then there is the long history of people wrongly raided for the crime of merely owning plant growing equipment or, even worse, merely shopping at stores that sell plant growing equipment that could be used to grow marijuana (or, for that matter, just about anything else). Here’s just one example. Here’s another.

These military-ish attacks on small-time marijuana offenders, and the mistaken raids that go with them, have been going on for 20 years. — Hit & Run

It’s bad enough that people growing marijuana are persecuted under the insane war on some drugs, but this sort of police-state mentality is the natural consequence of banning something people want. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from Prohibition the first time, and we apparently still haven’t learned. It’s time to save our neighborhoods, our families, our children, from the scourge of the War on Drugs, and end Prohibition again.

One thought on “Cops bust yet another tomato grower

  • February 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm
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    Welcome to the “land of the free”

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