Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
DrugWarRant
Join us on Pete's couch.
couch

DrugWarRant.com, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
facebooktwitterrss
May 2013
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives

Authors

Police State

It’s not only a police state, it’s an incompetent police state.

So in August, 2011, a member of the Missouri Highway Patrol spots Bob Harte doing something suspicious. He was leaving a store with a small bag of merchandise that he bought from that store. It happened to be a hydroponics store.

Bob Harte didn’t think he was doing anything suspicious. He thought he was doing a father-son project to grow tomatoes and squash.

Seven months later, the Missouri Highway Patrol passes on that “tip” to the Johnson County Sherriff’s Office, which then puts together an investigation spanning several weeks involving early-morning searches of the Harte’s trash, but apparantly not involving any actual… investigation.

Using notoriously unreliable field testing kits and a complete lack of intelligence, they determine that plant matter in the trash is marijuana, and get a warrant to serve a SWAT-style search of the home, terrifying the family.

They found… tomatoes and squash.

Here’s the story

There are several things to take away from this story. One is, of course, the incredible amount of incompetence displayed by law enforcement.

Another is the disconnect involved in expending this much effort on a chance of arresting somebody for something that most Americans think should be legal. Is there no other crime to combat?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

49 comments to Police State

  • primus

    This ties in nicely with the article I saw recently where if you are ‘too smart’ they won’t make you a cop. Sort of makes my assumption of meat-headedness sound correct.

  • Cannabis

    My issue with all of this is that there are judges who mindlessly sign off on darn near anything with the flimsiest of supporting information.

  • claygooding

    The criminal system,both state and federal,are corrupted with judges and JoP’s willing to hand their LE anything requested taking it for granted that these botanists wearing badges would know carrot toppings from weed or are capable of administering and reading results of the cheapest field test kit on the market.

  • allan

    more to say but headin’ out for the GCM, here’s more:

    Hydroponic Gardening, The Target of an Insane “Drug War”

    • divadab

      Also a Kansas article. WHat’s up with Kansas? Here’s another anecdote – another poster here won;t drive through Kansas from CO to visit his daughter in AR – for fear of being pulled over and harassed because he’s from a State that has legalized the demon weed.

      The Kansas police are doing a great job for their monopoly capitalist masters. No wonder the State is losing population.

      • divadab

        Correction – Kansas City, MO is not in Kansas, anymore or ever! Same dumbass police culture, apparently.

        What this means to me is that there are at least two, and probably more, redundant positions in the KC police department, since this waste of time is the best they can come up with to keep themselves busy.

        WHat a fucking waste of taxpayer money. Milking it – police welfare bums.

        • Freeman

          The Harte’s (both ex-CIA agents) are residents of Leewood, Johnson County, Kansas, a posh suburb of the Greater Kansas City area (which effectively straddles the KS/MO state line — I live in this area on the MO side). Residents of Johnson County, and particularly Leewood, are among the highest per-capita income levels in the Mid-West. They vote heavily Republican and have historically strongly supported the drug war.

          Their story is all over the local TV news. I just saw a report this morning as I was reading this post. They are suing everyone involved. It’s too bad, though hardly surprising, that their argument is that the government didn’t have enough reliable evidence in this case to warrant a SWAT raid. They don’t seem to understand that “this happens all the time” as a predictable result of the common drug-war enforcement tactics most of their neighbors support.

          All the same, I consider it a good thing when ex-CIA agents or Mayors get caught up in prohibition’s horrible side-effects, thereby calling national attention to these police-state tactics and conveying the reality that this can happen to anybody, not just “undesirables”, under the flimsiest of reasons for suspicion.

          Kansas still requires that all of it’s liquor stores sell only liquor — you have to go elsewhere to buy mixers or anything non-alcoholic (usually next-door in the same building, but it has to be a completely separate business with no direct physical access between the two, and separate cash registers and transactions, though often in rural areas the same clerk will handle both transactions). They will very likely be among the last states to legalize mj, probably only outlasted by Oklahoma.

  • Deep Dish

    Why didn’t they just find one of their fellow cops to smoke the plant matter to find out for themselves?

    Off-topic:

    A few days ago I got a little back into engaging on comment discussions of a news story. Someone brought up a point that I occasionally hear: that of secondhand smoke, of any kind, being harmful to people with poor respiratory health. The workaround answer to this argument are vaporizers, but my question is how serious of magnitude is truly the harm?

    • claygooding

      Deep,the researchers that did the study on second hand tobacco smoke admitted they had juggled the numbers to get the results they wanted because without “fixing” the science not enough harm from tobacco was happening,so I figure if marijuana smoke doesn’t damage the toker how could it 2nd hand harm anyone?

      • I commissioned a study once. I realized at that point that you can have the results of a study say anything, usually supporting the side that commissioned the study.

        After seeing what the government studies have done to marijuana, I really don’t think much about the tobacco studies. Maybe some day they can all be redone to reflect reality.

  • thelbert

    these narcs forgot the first rule of narking: always bring your own evidence. i think in a real democracy these policemen would at least lose their cushy jobs.

  • Plant Down Babylon

    Only a terrorist would question Authority/Government. How dare you!

    We’re watching everything you do….

    Everybody knows ‘tomatoes’ is code for merrywanna. I must be getting old because I don’t know what ‘squash’ is code for.

  • allan

    first GCM I’ve spoken at w/ nice weather, woohoo! Sunny, warm, got to see my friends… and got to meet Shelley Fox-Loken, LEAP’s Oregon resident speaker. Such fun, good folks talking smack about the gummint, picking on O and Gil. I used this hydroponics story in my short schpiel. Made my 2 mile walk home from the bus stop that much better.

  • Santa

    Eeeew, I Smell Sulphur.
    Rudolph Can’t Stop Sneezing.
    Blitzen still in Shock from losing an Eye to a FlashBang.
    Birdseed is Through the Roof.
    Siggggh,, Sorry Kids,,
    Christmas is Cancelled.

  • darkcycle

    When I started growing, I did actually grow some tomatoes and lettuce under my lights between runs. I often secretly wished they’d raid me when I was doing the veggies, but because I always had a bushel or so of weed left from my last pot run, it wouldn’t have likely helped my case one bit.

    • War Vet

      “I often secretly wished they’d raid me when I was doing the veggies”

      Quick DC -go knock on wood . . . I hold your spot.

      • darkcycle

        I was knocking it as I was writing that. SWAT raids kill people.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          I have often thought of setting up an innocent indoor grow and then dropping the dime on myself. After the disappointed jack boots left doing it again in about 6 months. In theory two police raids on an innocent target should just about insure that if the cops don’t ignore a tip for a third raid that the evidence gathered wouldn’t stand up. The one part that makes the plan a certifiable piece of stupidity is just what DC said, “SWAT raids kill people.” Just because you’ve got a basement filled with tomatoes doesn’t mean they won’t shoot you dead (and get away with it.)

        • War Vet

          Former Texas Narcotics cop, Barry Cooper filmed some cops raiding an empty home all fit with grow gear and inside were miniature Christmas trees growing . . . he even filmed cops at a car wash confiscating a bag with a crack pipe and cash in it . . . the bag was found outside in the open and the video footage shows the cops just pocketing the cash. Supposedly Texas Rangers are the cops that come to your home for a ‘misdemeanor’ pot warrant in the state of Texas . . . according to Barry that is. Granted, he’s making money of teaching people how not to get busted, but he’s got some great enthusiasm . . . he works in a way where ‘the law just makes the cuffs disappear’ . . . that’s his attitude towards the drug laws: untouchable regardless of how many times they’ve taken his kids or his wife’s or his’ freedoms. Love him or hate him for his past, he’s walked the walk and has spent days in jail for even a little bit . . . he begs to get busted just to make a lecture.

        • Plant Down Babylon

          Barry hates crooked KOPS. The worst is, they’ve totally retaliated against him and his family.
          Protect and serve (themselves)
          At least he’s joined our side. ONE less WOSD prohibitionist.
          I think Barry’s a member of LEAP too!

  • Servetus

    Good news on the drug war front. General William Tecumseh Sherman’s services will not be needed at this time.

    All it took was the Great Recession to give the State of Georgia the opportunity to enact humane and cost saving prison reform that includes directing minor drug offenders into community-based rehab.

    The idea appeals to conservatives because of cost reductions, and liberals because it reduces harsh sentencing for drug possession crimes that include mandatory minimums.

    • Cliff

      It’s a win – win for “conservatives” and “liberals”.

      I put the terms in quotes to show the words have almost lost any meaning in politics. Conservatives no longer conserve government power and coercion. Liberals no longer protect our liberties.

      For “conservatives”, they get to outsource the punishment (to one of their parasite prison / treatment industrial complex buddies) and still get to punish the “evil druggie scum” by locking them up in rehab. ‘Cause you know, it’s a moral failing to do drugs. Forced rehab with the backstop of jail is a punishment, I don’t care how you parse the issue. And government is calling the shots.

      For “liberals”, they get to be all touchy feely and say that they are being “compassionate” by helping the “poor helpless addicted victims” of drugs they choose to ingest. ‘Cause they can’t help themselves, they are slaves to the evil dealers, who are evil cause they make $ off the poor addicts (and not giving the government its vig). Forcing someone into treatment who doesn’t want it, is not compassionate, it is coercion. Government backed coercion.

      Both sides can claim victory, while we all pay in $ & liberties lost.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    This one’s title gave me a nice belly laugh:

    Two forms of alcoholism: One which warrants a chronic disease model, and college

    **************************************************

    They just can’t let go of the “gateway” nonsense. Didn’t any of these idiot eggheads bother to think about the fact that more people choose to enjoy cannabis nowadays than use smoking tobacco?

    Study Adds to Evidence That Cigarettes Are Gateway to Marijuana

    • Servetus

      I know a woman who began smoking cigarettes so she could better tolerate smoking hash that irritated her throat. She consequently became addicted to cigarettes, not hash.

      Twenty years later, she finally quit her three-pack-a-day nicotine habit. It’s the only incident I know of that marginally appears to fit the gateway paradigm. And it doesn’t change the fact that all starting points are arbitrary.

    • claygooding

      -LIFE is the gateway to drugs,every animal on earth spends it’s entire life trying to feel as good as they can any time they can.

    • Cliff

      Gawd, where is the government trough for the study to find out the obvious? I want me some of that government teat.

  • thelbert

    it’s not that there is no other crime to combat. marijuana is the low hanging fruit. easy to find, easy to get an arrest and little chance of physical danger to the nark.it’s like joe arpaio beating black people in 1950’s washington d.c.: lots of upside no downside. in fact his racism is what got him his job with the dea. police brutality was joe’s gateway to fame and fortune.

    • War Vet

      Whatever you do thelbert, don’t go into a pitch black room -staring at the mirror while uttering Joe Arpaio’s name 3 times. “Joe Arpaio (3x’s), I ate your doughnut”. If you stop posting anything on this couch, we’ll know you chanced fate via the above.

      • thelbert

        have no fear, w. v. i rarely even think his name, but that face is hard to disremember.

  • allan

    in reading the KC Star’s story I can’t help but cringe…

    But a lab test done 10 days after the raid and again four months later in August found that the leafy material was not marijuana.

    “It does not look anything like marijuana leaves or stems,” a lab report said.

    So they test it twice after their “oopsies” raid…

    Melanie Wilson, a law professor at the University of Kansas, said there is a low bar for evidence needed to justify a search, but that even then the Harte search raised questions. The positive field tests were evidence, but the information about the visit to the hydroponics store was old.

    False field tests are hardly evidence (except of incompetence) but doesn’t anyone in KC feel, you know, troubled that going into a store, a legitimate business, operating in broad daylight and prolly advertised locally w/ a listing in the phone book, is reasonable suspicion to send armed and armored officers into your home w/ weapons drawn? Does that make everyone that shops at Loew’s or Home Despot or any garden supply store a terrorism suspect because those places sell… fertilizer?

    Johnson County District Judge James Franklin Davis would not specifically address the Harte case, which he was not involved in, but said that a search warrant affidavit should not be judged on just one or two pieces of evidence cited. Often it contains many facts and important context, he said.

    Obviously in this case the trash search and store visit were about all LE had. (The affadavit for the search warrant of my friends Tam And Marcella raided here in Eugene a few years back by 4 dozen cops w/ an armored personnel carrier was so full of hokum I was shocked when I read it. But it did follow the formula: “due to my training as a law enforcement occifer I know that potheads often blah blah blah…” It was all the more disgusting because of that wording.)

    The Hartes believe the green leafy plant material deputies found was tea. Adlynn Harte makes a big container of freshly brewed tea daily.

    “When we realized it might have been actually tea, the absurdity of it is unbelievable,” Adlynn Harte said.

    No shit… and wifey is an attorney. “Oopsies” indeed.

    • Freeman

      There’s a reason they call this place the “heartland” — because it ain’t where the brains is.

    • Freeman

      The Hartes had fought for a year to get law enforcement records that would show why a Johnson County tactical team chose their house in an upscale subdivision to search for marijuana.

      This is the big story here. The rich aren’t supposed to be victimized by the policies they use to oppress the poor. When it does happen, they are shocked — SHOCKED! — at how their policies are being carried out.

      “But then it is disheartening. We put our faith in law enforcement to do good police work, and we had to suffer through this for the last year.”

      “For law enforcement to have time to troll gardening stores and find out who is buying a light kit and mill through people’s trash in hopes they might find something is troublesome. I think everybody should be concerned.”

      • kaptinemo

        Yup. Professor Whitebread’s Iron Law of Prohibition at work:

        “The iron law of prohibitions — all of them — is that they are passed by an identifiable US to control the conduct of an identifiable THEM.”

        “And a prohibition is absolutely done for when it does what? Comes back and bothers US. If, at any time, in any way, that prohibition comes back and bothers us, we will get rid of it for sure, every doggoned time. Look at the alcohol prohibition if you want a quick example. As long as it is only THEM — you know, them criminals, them crazy people, them young people, them minority group members — we are fine. But any prohibition that comes back and bothers US is done for.”

        It doesn’t get any plainer than that.

  • primus

    When will someone sue for a significant amount; you know, enough to really get their attention. Find out what the ceiling on their muni insurance is, then treble it. IOW, make the taxpayers pay for backing such incompetents.

    • Windy

      That won’t work, and the taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the incompetence or outright corruption of cops, prosecutors, and judges. What’s needed is the right of victims of these “wrong door” raids and raids based on flimsy (or no real) evidence to sue the real offenders directly. We need to get rid of “qualified immunity” for cops prosecutors and judges, whether we have to do it at the local or State level.

      • primus

        The only way the cops, judges, prosecutors etc. will change their ways is if the public demands it. Being forced to pay a large financial penalty which affects their property taxes, and perhaps lowers the quality of service the muni is able to supply will accomplish this in a way that nothing else can. Win one, then listen to them howl. Ultimately, the citizens are responsible for what their cops do; the cops are employees of the muni. The prosecutors and judges may be paid by the state, but once a city gets hit with a penalty like I suggest, the city will lean on the state to make the judges etc. change their approach. If it is a large city, they will have a lot of traction in the state legislature, and could force a change. Right now, the citizens think it is just fine that the police goons are doing as they are. Only a financial penalty will change their minds.

        • Windy

          primus, many municipalities have paid out millions many times over many years, the citizens whose taxes pay the bill (or the insurance which pays the bill) seldom make a peep and never change a thing in the way they allow their LE, judges and prosecutors to act re: the drug war. Only when the money has to come out of the pockets of the offending LE, judges and prosecutors will anything change. The vast majority of citizens in these municipalities are so used to paying ever higher taxes every year they just accept it and and don’t question the reasons given (lawsuits are never mentioned) for the need for higher taxes (they are slaves to the state and don’t even realize it, which is very sad).

  • Servetus

    Subtle and sophisticated attempts at reefer pseudo-science are emerging on the propaganda front.

    An information forum, the Learnist, is featuring marijuana’s biologically menacing effects on the brain. Pages 3 and 4 contain the bulk of the usual BS. The source of this science fiction? The NIDA? Not exactly.

    Mercyhurst Prep Health has put together one of the most extensive collections on Learnist. Mercyhurst Preparatory School is a four year co-educational Catholic secondary school founded by the Sisters of Mercy to prepare students from all religious and ethnic backgrounds for a successful, productive, and compassionate life….

    The drug war is deteriorating so badly it now needs the Sisters of Mercy to schlep tyranny. Some advice for the new Sisters of Persecution at Mercyhurst: abandon all hope ye who enter Prohibitionland.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      You’ve obviously never had anyone smack your knuckles with a ruler. Catholic Nuns teaching school are dictionary picture worthy examples of petty tyrants.

      Sheesh, the Catholic Church must be shrinking significantly if they’re letting the heathens matriculate.

  • CJ

    hey… thanks for putting up another blog, pete. I have to share with you all, I am really kind of down. I mean, is it just me or does anybody else out there feel like there is a lull in the reform movement right now? I honestly do feel like nothing is happening, nobody is doing anything, there was this great rise and crest of a wave followed up by alot of nothing and now we’re just waiting.

    It seems to me everybody is excited about “seeing what the federal government decides to do about Washington and Colorado.” That’s the big deal and big story and we’re all just waiting, lull dull and complacent. Maybe this is what they want, you know, they’re not that dumb (though clearly not as smart as we are or at least not as honest, good natured and well hearted.)

    I can see this very very clearly, this is the Tokugawa Ieyasu approach to (drug) warfare.

    For instance, the three great unifiers of Japan, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi (Hashiba, Kinoshita etc) Hideyoshi and (the aforementioned) Ieyasu Tokugawa are all sitting in a garden with a singing bird. The bird, however, at that moment, would not sing.

    The first unifier, Nobunaga, says to the bird, “Bird, if you don’t sing, I’ll kill you.” Hideyoshi tells the bird, “Bird, if you don’t sing, I’ll make you sing.” And Ieyasu says, “Bird, if you don’t sing, I’ll wait until you do sing.”

    In the end, Nobunaga died in a blazing inferno, killed by one of his own men and had his heirs shamelessly eradicated and usurped by Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi was the man of the hour his entire life, but the end of his life was spent tirelessly trying to secure the future of his house which fell not long after he died. Ieyasu on the other hand, through his patience, eventually became shogun and his line continued as head of his government for hundreds of years. Indeed the Shogunates, each of them, lasted a couple of centuries. This war on drugs is only approaching it’s first.

    This war on drugs is often compared to (alcohol) prohibition. Indeed, they are the same thing. We know the reasons why those who claim it isn’t, claim it isn’t but in fact it is really all the same thing. Unfortunately though, our problem here, didn’t go the same route as (alcohol) prohibition… Insofar as a few decades of chaos reversed that terrible experiment and here we are, fighting valiantly as we do, yet with no real end in site.

    I’m sorry, I really appreciate all of you – I mean it, I really do. I’m afraid in my life, all of my friends are homeless or living in shelters, we’re all alike, stealing and begging everyday. When we’re OK, the times are great but when we’re not, and these are the people that I would say are my family yet I could never ever trust them fully no matter what, and they feel the same about me. Being straight, it’s really hard to talk to them or look them in the eye, not because I don’t want to but it just hurts all the time so it’s very uncomfortable. I understand that’s the price you pay, I do, I’m aware by now, I suppose you’d be right to say you made your bed now lie in it, OK that’s cool. I just have a hard time, I guess, because I got into this reform and I found out all the “inconvenient” truth’s that lie underneath this war on drugs. I know about a time people like my friends and my self would’ve been respectable people whom spent their free time in some Opium bar while across the street my work colleagues would be downing a few pints. It’s not that way anymore – I get that – sometimes the irony is too much though. We sit outside on the Lower East Side, a scene of drunken debauchery every night and they hate us and I guess now we hate them too. I don’t know where we could go though. I know about England, I guess I am lucky that if I ever had the good fortune my background would allow me to settle there but that’s not how it is for everybody. And then Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and those other places, if you’re not one of them, they’re not gonna take you in. So here we are, kind of stuck, and since we’re here we need things to be fixed here. I truly do appreciate all the passion, effort and energy you all put into your replies here and helping us all find links to other important articles and thoughts. I guess I just wish there was something that I could do, something more and there isn’t. I think even if I had George Soros money, I’d give it all, every cent, to drug reform (and I know that guy gives alot) but it wouldn’t be enough to help my friends. To help them and help myself, things have to change. This is the lot who don’t get help from therapy, who dont get help from rehabs, detox’s, halfway houses, suboxone, subutex, naltrexone injections, methadone, methadose etc etc etc etc.

    I guess I’ve always known that the war on drugs would end one day but I also knew that it would take time and I suppose I am just afraid that me and a few others are out of time. I just hope it’ll be easier for the others, indoctrinated at 6-8 years old as they are right now (as I was) but they’ll find solace in a needle just like me, I just hope it’ll be easier for them because in the end this is all soooooo very needless and unnecessary. sorry for taking up so much of your time! im looking forward to Pete’s latest.

    • darkcycle

      Funny…I get what you’re saying, CJ. It’s not fast enough. Not for the ones suffering today, or for those who died last night. Not fast enough for us to be able to slap each other on the backs and say “Good Job” as we leave Pete’s couch and go home. In Pete’s case, this post won’t be the end, this blog will go on, though I suspect there are times he wished it were the last post. All of us feel tha way at times… BUT when I see the movement that has occurred in just the last eight years, and compare it with the way things were then… I’m blown away.
      Hang in there CJ.
      Just to remind you folks, I’m not gone, merely trying to keep the new Boss happy. He’s nine months old, and he’s keeping me real busy.

      • War Vet

        Hopefully speaking for those that grew up after 9/11 and our long horrible wars: My generation (Class of 2001) will one day wake up and realize it was the DEA who knocked the Twin Towers Down by planting a few Gigantic Prohibited Opium Flowers, Pot/Hash plants and coca shrubs that grew fast and grew around and around and around the World Trade Center Buildings before crushing them to their sad collapse. Our young are marching across dusty streets and we are being baptized in drug money jihad in the Middle East . . . Our Lord’s sermon: “Do Unto Others”, is finally being heard after the painful screeches and ringing from tens of thousands of drug money financed/enhanced road side bombs, which once made us all deaf. We’re turning our eyes down on the cops and realizing Mexico was right under our noses this whole time. Mexico is America’s largest Abortion Clinic: the right to abort human lives simply because drugs were viewed as an undo burden to a ‘(Drug) Free America’. Our generation will learn that our economy and American Dream were on the list of seized and prohibited items in the drug search warrant on American homes and families. The biggest mistake a Police State did was to send hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers to fight the war on drugs in the Middle East and then reward them with a ‘Bread Line’. No cop or Fed stands a chance against a nation and her troops after all this. We will hang the laundry out to dry and the drug laws will be blown by the winds and evaporated by the sun . . . we will squeeze every last drop of drug prohibition from our soaked Flag. To end the Drug War is the same exact thing as singing ‘God Bless America’. Our new song is: ‘We don’t smoke Fake Marijuana in Muskogge . . . Iraq and Afghanistan’s drug money was harsher than LSD’.

  • Victim 666

    Where to go for Help? Social Services? HA! BigBro Mental Dwarf Freak Show. I want my Money Back. I want it Back TODAY. I want whoever involved in Sterilizing my Woman 20 Years ago to STRECH the ROPE, Sufferring the same Bloodlust Catcalls as poor Saddaam.

  • allan

    speaking of the great state of Misery, Tony Ryan (LEAP) in the Columbia Tribune:

    Law enforcers want ‘war’ to end

    Tony throws in w/ St Louis cop and legalization lobbyist, police Sgt. Gary Wiegert.

  • ezrydn

    What do you expect from your local pot-bellied cop? Oooo, there’s an east arrest for my record.