Margaret Holcomb is an 81-year old grandmother living in Amherst, Massachusetts who suffers from arthritis and glaucoma. She has been growing a marijuana plant, hidden in the far corner of her yard, nestled in her raspberry bushes. She used her plant medicinally to treat her pain although she didn’t have a card. No one saw her plant growing in the bushes, including lawn maintenance workers, family and neighbors. Unfortunately it was not safe from a low flying military style helicopter that was searching yards in the neighborhoods of Hadley, Northampton and Amherst for marijuana plants.
A Waste of Resources
The U.S. Department of Justice granted the Massachusetts National Guard $60,000 to conduct an “eradication operation” that led to the confiscation of 44 marijuana plants from residents in the area. Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2008 and now the residents of Massachusetts will vote on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana in November. With the plant partially legal and potentially completely legal, at least within the next few years, it seems like an immense amount of money is going to an operation to prevent something completely harmless, instead of going towards stopping legitimate harmful criminal activity.
No Charges Field for Possession of Single Marijuana Plant
Margaret was out with her daughter on the day the National Guard and the police department showed up to confiscate her marijuana plant. Her son Tim Holcomb was home at the time and according to him, officers told him that no criminal charges would be filed, so long as Tim did not request a search warrant from officers and handed over the plant with no resistance. A pickup truck filled with confiscated marijuana plants along with several vehicles accompanied the officers. They arrived within 10 minutes of the helicopters departure to seize the 81 year old’s single marijuana plant.
4th Amendment Rights?
“This is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, I am a citizen of the United States of America. You have overstepped and I am not going to step aside,” says Margaret of the incident, adding “You can’t fly around our house and snoop in our yards.” She says that the good thing about her age is that she’s not afraid to speak out and she intends to continue doing so. She says, “I hope that what comes out of that is 2 things: 1, changing the ridiculously convoluted laws around marijuana. And 2, that legalization efforts in Massachusetts include local growing.”
Massachusetts is 1 of 5 states voting on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana this November. Maine, California and Nevada are some of the states that will also be voting. As it stands, marijuana is already legal in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and D.C. and all statistics show that there has been no negative impact on teen use as well as a general lowering of crime and deaths by opioids. Margaret’s voice now also has the power to illuminate the issue for more people in Massachusetts and let her neighbors know how many resources are being used to prevent an 81 year old woman from growing a single marijuana plant.