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May 10, 2017

Police raid 81-year-old’s property to confiscate a single pot plant

eggrole/Flickr)

(eggrole/Flickr)

SOUTH AMHERST- Tucked away in the back of her garden, 81-year-old Margaret Holcomb was growing a single marijuana plant that she used to treat her arthritis, glaucoma and sleeping difficulties. That is until Sept. 21, when Massachusetts National Guard and state police descended on her property with the aid of a military helicopter and seized her plant without a warrant.

Tim Holcomb was taking a late lunch with his sister at their mother’s home when he began to feel the walls shake as a military style helicopter circled overhead. He told The Massachusetts Daily Collegian that when the helicopter had moved away, several police vehicles pulled up to the house, including a pickup truck with “40 to 50 plants” in its bed.

Margaret Holcomb was away in Maine at the time of the raid.

According to Tim Holcomb, a state police officer in the narcotics investigation division was not able to present a warrant when he requested one.

“They said, ‘no we do not have a warrant. We’re here as a courtesy. We’re going to take the plant, if you require a warrant we will get a warrant if that’s what you want to do. If you want to escalate we’ll get a warrant. This way you don’t get arrested, you don’t get charges, nobody knows and we get the contraband,’ ” said Tim Holcomb.

As Tim Holcomb spoke with the officer, other officers went into the yard, cut down the plant and tossed it in the back of the truck.

Margaret Holcomb did not grow or possess the plant legally.

State police declined to comment when The Collegian reached out for corroboration.

Margaret Holcomb said that when she was told what had happened she was outraged.

“I was told by my son that the feds had confiscated my pot plant, and I was frankly appalled, and that turned into grieving, and that turned into anger,” said Margaret Holcomb, “I was outraged that we allow military vehicles to fly in the privacy of our own backyard airspace.”

Tim Holcomb called the raid “a violation of (his) fourth amendment rights.”

Both Margaret and Tim Holcomb thought the operation was a waste of government resources.

“It’s $15 million a year that the feds are spending on an eradication and suppression of cannabis cultivation,” said Tim Holcomb.

Margaret Holcomb added, “There are better things to spend government money on, send some money to Haiti.”

Stefan Gellar can be reached at stefangeller@umass.edu.

 

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