Sunday, March 31, 2013

Green Thumbs Seek More Green

Two former CIA employees whose Kansas home was fruitlessly searched for marijuana during a two-state drug sweep claim they were illegally targeted because they had bought indoor growing supplies to raise vegetables.

Adlynn and Robert Harte are suing to get more information about why sheriff's deputies searched their home in the upscale Kansas City suburb of Leawood as part of a two-state sweep that netted marijuana plants, guns, and growing paraphernalia. 

Hartes' attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said she suspects the couple's house was targeted because they had bought hydroponic equipment to grow a small number of tomatoes and squash plants in their basement.

"With little or no other evidence of any illegal activity, law enforcement officers make the assumption that shoppers at the store are potential marijuana growers, even though the stores are most commonly frequented by backyard gardeners who grow organically or start seedlings indoors," the couple's lawsuit says.

When law enforcement arrived at the home, the family had just six plants -- three tomato plants, one melon plant and two butternut squash plants -- growing in the basement.  The deputies "made rude comments" and implied their son was using marijuana. A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to help, but deputies ultimately left after providing a receipt stating, "No items taken."

The couple both were required to pass rigorous background checks for their previous jobs working for the CIA as well.  "You can't go into people's homes and conduct searches without probable cause," Pilate told reporters.

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