An 81-year-old woman's home in Massachusetts was subject to a full-scale police raid after authorities discovered a sole marijuana plant growing in her garden.
Margaret Holcomb was growing the plant for medicinal purposes, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Holcomb suffers from arthritis and glaucoma.
On Sept. 21, Margaret's son Tim was having lunch at her house with his sister when they noticed a military-style helicopter hovering over the property.
State police arrived minutes later, accompanied by the National Guard. Margaret, who isn't legally permitted to grow marijuana, was not home at the time.
"[The officer] asked me if I knew there was a marijuana plant growing on the property," Tim told the Gazette. "I didn't answer the question. I asked, 'What are you doing here?'"
He said he was then informed that no criminal charges would be filed, provided he didn't demand to see a search warrant.
"We just want the illegal contraband," Tim said the officer told him.
The task force proceeded to walk into Margaret's yard and remove the plant in question, adding it to those they had seized at other nearby homes.
State police spokesperson David Procopio sent an email to the Gazette confirming the raid took place, adding that Margaret's was one of 44 properties growing marijuana in plain sight.
"At each location where property owners were home, troopers identified themselves and explained the purpose for the visit, why the plants were being grown illegally, and seized the plants," he explained.
No criminal charges were filed against Margaret or the other home owners.
According to attorney Michael Cutler, raids of this nature have become more common after Massachusetts made medical marijuana legal in 2012.
"The same exact stuff happened last year," he said. "We're seeing the last throes of police hostility to the changing laws. They're taking the position that if [the marijuana is] in plain view, it's somehow illegal."
Ultimately, Cutler argues that the raids are a waste of public funds.
"Is this the way we want our taxpayer money spent, to hassle an 81-year-old and law-abiding patients?" he asked rhetorically.
As for Margaret's take on all this, she said she is weighing up her options.
"I'm prepared to take actions if I need to," she said. "I don't picture them out here and putting an 81-year-old woman in jail."
Her son Tim is disturbed by the fact that police are conducting search and seizure operations without filing charges.
"If the state has a problem with people being discreet, the state has to use due process," he said, adding that his mother has contacted an attorney and plans to grow another marijuana plant.
A 2015 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of American citizens support the legalization of marijuana. That's up 21 points from a 2006 poll, where only 32 percent said they supported such legislation.