Once upon a time, an Indiana law enforcement officer gave me two pieces of advice: If you shoot a man inside your home, make sure he stops breathing before you call the law because “dead men don’t talk,” and if you ever get pulled over with a High Times magazine in the passenger seat, you had better goddamn believe the vehicle is getting searched.
However, that old beer-bellied boy in blue never once spewed any wisdom indicating that sometimes, retired cops like to fly around random neighborhoods searching for illegal pot gardens.
Unfortunately, no one ever explained this aerial sabotage tactic to 74-year-old Indiana resident Mildred Layton, either.
Earlier last week, Layton was busted for felony possession and cultivation of marijuana after a retired cop with the Indiana State Police (ISP) spotted a few cannabis plants growing out behind her home in LaPorte County.
A report from the Times of Northwestern Indiana indicates that the retired trooper, who supposedly comes with three decades of experience in identifying cannabis plants from the sky, was earning some extra cash flying around the area in a fixed wing aircraft in hopes of creating a bad day for some poor resident with a personal pot cultivation site.
Not long after the plants were called in to Indiana State Police dispatch, several armed troopers showed up at Layton’s Hudson Lake home toting a search warrant. Court records show that the elderly woman was simply hanging around the house, enjoying a couple of beers and a few joints at the time the officers began beating down the door.
During the search, officers found several cannabis plants growing outside, along with evidence of a recent harvest. This led to the discovery of some cultivation equipment, about two pounds of marijuana and none other than a copy of High Times magazine. The items were seized as evidence.
Layton, who admitted to officers that she had been growing marijuana for the past couple of years, is set to go before a judge later this week. If she is found guilty of the drug charges, the elderly woman could end up in a state penitentiary for up to 2.5 years, and incur fines reaching $10,000.
Indiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the United States, and the Republican-dominated legislature has all but refused to hear even a modest proposal aimed at decriminalizing the herb.
In states where marijuana has been made legal for recreational purposes, the law typically allows the cultivation of up to six plants. Layton was found in possession of about three mature plants and a few starters—perfectly acceptable cultivation practices in states where prohibition has been voted down.
Yet Indiana lawmakers would rather send police gunning after senior citizens for growing a substance that has been made legal in over half the nation than spend those resources combating the serious criminal activity that plagues the area.
Some of the latest FBI crime data shows that around 90 percent of thefts and home invasions that occur across the Hoosier state go unsolved, and a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the state as one of the most dangerous in the nation when it comes to the rape of female high school students.
Still, Indiana police agencies continue to bust thousands of non-violent people every year for minor pot possession, while the state viciously spirals outside the spectrum of civil society.