Margaret Holcomb is an 81-year-old woman from Amherst, Mass., who suffers from typical ailments of old age: glaucoma, arthritis and insomnia. Because of the difficulty in obtaining a medical-marijuana card and the cost of traveling to a dispensary in the next town to obtain marijuana, she decided to grow her own plant in her garden, behind the raspberries.
On the afternoon of Sept 21, a team of Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts National Guard troops showed up at her home with a helicopter and several vehicles to chop down her plant and take it away, the Washington Post reports.
That same day, 43 other plants were seized from various properties as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Cannabis Eradication Program, which gives states money to uproot marijuana plants. This year the DEA gave Massachusetts $60,000 for marijuana-eradication efforts.
The $18 million program has the stated goal of halting “the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States.” With more and more states moving toward legalization of marijuana, some lawmakers are questioning if the program even makes sense anymore. Massachusetts will vote on marijuana legalization this year.
DEA data in the mid-2000s revealed that most of the plants destroyed under the program were “ditchweed”—naturally growing marijuana plants that weren’t being cultivated for any particular use.
According to the Post, the DEA spent $75,000 to eradicate marijuana plants in Utah but didn’t find any.
"This raid, and similar raids in recent weeks, exposes the rank falsity of prohibitionist claims that law-enforcement resources aren't being used on marijuana enforcement," said Jim Borghesani of the group Yes on 4, which is running the campaign to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts. "It's difficult to say what's worse: the waste of taxpayer dollars or the violation of an elderly woman's peace."
Holcomb says that she is considering growing another pot plant.
"I don’t picture them out here and putting an 81-year-old woman in jail," she said.
Read more at the Washington Post.