During a routine traffic stop in Ohio, police discovered over 100 pounds of the most valuable marijuana ever documented:
Police curbed the gray, four-door Mercury Grand Marquis Ruci was driving after he allegedly committed a lane violation, the highway patrol statement indicated. A specially trained, narcotics-detecting dog was brought to the scene, and its reaction to the car signaled the presence of drugs, the statement said.
A search of the vehicle yielded 104 pounds of hydroponically-grown marijuana stuffed inside eight black plastic trash bags. Police said the marijuana had an estimated street sale value of more than $4.7 million. [Naperville Sun]
This is really an incredible discovery and I'm surprised it hasn’t generated more attention. At $4.7 million for 104 pounds, we're talking about an ounce that's worth $2824.51! That just blows away everything listed at High Times's market quotes section, where ounces of high-grade marijuana in Ohio last month were listed at $400. It also overwhelms the STRIDE data collected by drug enforcement officers showing that U.S. marijuana prices averaged around $200 per ounce as of 2003.
So far, I haven’t heard of anyone smoking this new type of marijuana, but that's probably because the police took it all.
Ok, enough. In case you haven't figured it out yet, this marijuana isn't worth $4.7 million. The police maybe got a little carried away and reporters don't doublecheck their numbers on things like this. It's happened before.
The problem is the numbers are so far off here that it really takes the crime to a different level, an inaccurate one. They magnified the value by a factor of 10, roughly, if the smoker-submitted street prices at High Times are realistic (my guess is they're the most accurate numbers available). The Naperville Sun, The Toledo Blade, and local ABC News grabbed the story, with The Sun even rounding up in the headline, "Driver arrested with $5 million in pot". Ironically, the $300,000 they added for the headline is much closer to what it was actually worth. Police also stated that it was "hydroponically-grown," but they admitted not knowing where it came from, meaning they can't be sure how it was actually grown. Perhaps they just like to say "hydroponic," in which case they're certainly not alone.
Amidst the numerous tragedies and injustices caused by our nation's war on drugs, the tendency to exaggerate drug seizures is a minor one. But it's annoying, it happens a lot, and it might even have the unintended effect of encouraging people to think growing marijuana will make them a millionaire.
Action Alert: (Updated) Let's respond to this by contacting the papers that reported it and letting them know they've been pushing a false headline. Here are a few of them:
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: send a letter/comment here
ABC News send a letter/comment here
Toledo Blade send a letter/comment here.
Naperville Sun send a letter/comment here.
You can send more or less the same comment to each, but be sure to include the appropriate link for their coverage, so they know what you're referring to. And, of course, be brief, on topic, and polite.
Update 2: Fascinatingly, The Chicago Tribune has the story, but leaves out the claims that the marijuana was valued at $4.7 million. That was the headline elsewhere. Could it be that Chicago Tribune was suspicious of the numbers?