Pot possession frequently leads to dire consequences.
1. Hagerstown, MD
In September, a five-foot, 105-pound teenage girl was pepper-sprayed by Hagerstown police after she allegedly struck a car while riding a bicycle. The unidentified 15-year-old was maced four times, according to her attorney; the cops said it was only once. The viral video shows the officers spraying the upset teen in response to her reaction to being handcuffed inside a police vehicle. The girl was charged with weed possession, disorderly conduct and assault.
2. Durham, NC
Last April, the Durham PD’s High Enforcement Abatement Team (HEAT) attempted to enter the home of a black woman named Vera McGriff because they “smelled” pot smoke. When McGriff refused to consent to the warrantless search, eight cops burst in anyway, tasing and cuffing everyone in the residence. The police eventually secured a warrant—four and a half hours later. Community activists accuse HEAT of using pot-law enforcement to intimidate and terrorize the local black community.
3. Hillsborough, FL
On August 30, a Hillsborough sheriff’s deputy killed Levonia Riggins, 22, who’d been the subject of a month-long investigation. During the raid, Deputy Caleb Johnson led a SWAT team into Riggins’s home and cornered him in a bedroom. Johnson “perceived him as a threat” and fired multiple times. Riggins was unarmed. Two grams were found on his body.
4. Charlotte-Mecklenberg, NC
The September shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, sparked demonstrations and a federal investigation. The cops claimed that Scott had brandished a firearm, though video footage didn’t confirm this. The CMPD later announced that pot possession was a factor in the incident—as if rolling a blunt was sufficient cause to justify using lethal force.
5. Amherst, MA
A September raid on 81-year-old Margaret Holcomb’s backyard garden by state police and the Massachusetts National Guard yielded a single medical pot plant. The troopers descended on the property in a helicopter and multiple vehicles, and the offending plant was cut down and hauled away in a pickup truck. Holcomb, unable to afford dispensary weed, had been growing it to treat her glaucoma, arthritis and insomnia.