Massachusetts police used a military style helicopter to seize a single marijuana plant from an 81 year old woman using it to ease her arthritis and glaucoma.
All that remains of the solitary marijuana plant an 81-year-old grandmother had been growing behind her South Amherst home is a stump and a ragged hole in the ground.
Margaret Holcomb said she was growing the plant as medicine, a way to ease arthritis and glaucoma and help her sleep at night. Tucked away in a raspberry patch and separated by a fence from any neighbors, the plant was nearly ready for harvest when a military-style helicopter and police descended on Sept. 21.
In a joint raid, the Massachusetts National Guard and State Police entered her yard and cut down the solitary plant in what her son, Tim Holcomb, said was a “pretty shocking” action — one that he argues constitutes unlawful surveillance and illegal search and seizure.
“It’s scary as hell,” said Tim Holcomb.
Holcomb said he was at his mother’s home eating a late lunch with his sister when they heard whirring blades and looked up to see a military-style helicopter circling the property, with two men crouching in an open door and holding a device that he suspects was a thermal imager to detect marijuana plants.
Margaret Holcomb was not home at the time.
Within 10 minutes of the helicopter departing, several vehicles arrived at the home, including a pickup truck with a bed filled with marijuana plants seized at other locations, and several State Police troopers, including one who flashed his badge.
“He asked me if I knew there was a marijuana plant growing on the property. I didn’t answer the question. I asked, ‘What are you doing here?’” Holcomb recalled.
Holcomb said he was told that as long as he did not demand that a warrant be provided to enter the property or otherwise escalate the situation, authorities would file no criminal charges.
“’We just want the illegal contraband,’” Holcomb recalled the officer saying. Margaret Holcomb does not have a medical card authorizing her to grow or possess marijuana.
Margaret Holcomb said she is “not a huge social activist” but she is ready to stand up in this case, in which she feels like her civil rights were violated. If she’s unable to get medical marijuana by other means, she said, she may grow another plant.
“I’m prepared to take actions if I need to,” Margaret Holcomb said. “I don’t picture them out here and putting an 81-year-old woman in jail.”
State police spokesman David Procopio confirmed in an email that State Police and National Guard enforcement occurred in the Amherst and Northampton area Sept. 21. He said the plant at Margaret Holcomb’s home was one of 44 found on various properties outside and in plain view that day.
“At each location where property owners were home, troopers identified themselves and explained the purpose for the visit, why the plants were being grown ill [...]
The Australian parliament passed new national laws today paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness.
Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permit both legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. The changes, proposed earlier this month by the Turnbull government, had bi-partisan support.
Recreational cannabis cultivation and use remains illegal with state-based criminal laws still in place.
Health minister Sussan Ley said it was an historic day for the nation and the people who “fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals”.
“This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy,” she said.
Australia medical marijuana legal
Under the new federal scheme, patients with a valid prescription can possess and use medicinal cannabis products manufactured from cannabis legally cultivated in Australia, provided the supply has been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation. The changes put medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.
The Victorian government announcement last year that it will legalise the drug for medical use in 2017. NSW is also currently conducting trials into a cannabis-based drug, Epidolex, with a focus on children with epilepsy, and leading the state-based focus on medical marijuana.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is [...]
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