Marijuana

Michigan Cops Protect Citizens by Stealing Leaf Blowers From Cancer Patients

Medical marijuana growers face forfeiture.

|

Amazon.com

When police raided his house in St. Joseph County, Michigan, Thomas Williams, a 72-year-old cancer patient, had 12 marijuana plants, as permitted by his state's medical marijuana law. But he also had a few unplanted seedlings that he had prepared to replace plants that were dying. The cops said the seedlings put him over the legal limit. They did not charge him with a crime. Instead they took his stuff, including his car, his TV, his cellphone, his shotgun, and $11,000 in cash. They are trying to take his house too.

The case, highlighted by the Detroit Free Press, illustrates the cruel, greedy pettiness of civil forfeiture laws that allow police to take assets allegedly connected to crime without so much as filing charges, let alone obtaining a conviction. A year and a half after armed men in camouflage and black masks broke down his door with a battering ram, Williams is still fighting to keep his home, which requires proving that he did not use money from illegal activity to pay for it.

As the Free Press notes, Michigan was one of the five states that received the lowest grade (a D–) in a 2010 Institute for Justice report on forfeiture abuses. Michigan allows forfeiture based on "a preponderance of the evidence," meaning any probability greater than 50 percent, and it lets law enforcement agencies keep 100 percent of the proceeds. 

"It's straight-up theft," Williams' lawyer tells the Free Press. "The forfeiture penalty does not match the crime. It's absurd. They grow an extra plant, and suddenly they're subjected to forfeiture. A lot of my practice is made up of these kinds of cases: middle-aged, middle-income people who have never been in trouble before. It's all about the money."

Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police, agrees, although she tries to put a nobler-sounding spin on it. "Michigan's asset forfeiture program saves taxpayers money and deprives drug criminals of cash and property," Etue wrote in her last annual forfeiture report. "Michigan's law enforcement community has done an outstanding job of stripping drug dealers of illicit gain and utilizing those proceeds to expand and enhance drug enforcement efforts to protect our citizens."

The Free Press describes the outstanding job that Michigan cops did in the case of Ed Boyke:

The 69-year-old retiree from General Motors obtained a medical marijuana card to help with pinched nerves in his neck following brain surgeries to correct epilepsy and remove a tumor. He also obtained permits to grow for two other patients.

In April 2010, Saginaw County Sheriff's deputies and Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided his home. The DEA left, but deputies took his 2008 car, $62 from his wallet, his wide-screen television, his two lawn mowers, a leaf blower, a dehumidifier, an air compressor, "and a bunch of other stuff, some of it junk, right out of my garage," he said in a recent interview.

Police said he was 12 plants over his legal limit of 36 plants, plus another 30 or so in the process of being cloned, but with no root systems. Boyke, a father of four and a Vietnam veteran with no criminal history, said he had just started cloning new plants because recently licensed medical marijuana users had inquired whether they could become his clients. "I just wanted to make sure I would have the inventory."

Like Williams in Van Buren County, Boyke was never charged with a crime. But police came the day after the raid, he said, and warned that if he didn't give them $5,000 in cash, they would put a lien on his house. He drove to the credit union, got the cash and handed it over.

"I was afraid," he said in his small ranch house on Duane, where he has lived for more than two decades. "I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to lose my house."

Per Col. Etue, citizens should rest easier at night knowing that Ed Boyke has been deprived of his car, his TV set, his lawn mowers, his leaf blower, his dehumudifer, and the 62 bucks in his wallet, not to mention the $5,000 that police later extorted from him. Random looting by armed agents of the state: It's all about making everyone feel more secure.

The Free Press also discusses the forfeiture action against Wladyslaw Kowalski, a medical marijuana grower whose case Robby Soave has covered here.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]

NEXT: Florida, the Freest State in the Country?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if people invented religion and the idea of cosmic justice because there is no justice (and never has been or will be) for those who abuse power in this world.

      1. There is no justice.

        There’s…just…us….

        *Black Power Salute*

        Right on! Jah be coo…

  1. I hope that everyone involved in stealing from him are eaten slowly by packs small dogs.

    1. Hell Yeah

  2. It takes a village to rob cancer patients.

    1. There’s always a Hillary behind every village idiot.

  3. Disgusting.

  4. As a Michigan resident, I’m super glad teh po po are keeping us safe from jackals like this pothead. Anything they take from him is less I get taxed. So it’s all good.

    If you’ve done nothing wrong….

    1. If you’ve done nothing wrong, consider that your peace of mind depends on trusting the government to not go all Special Weapons And Tactics on your ass by mistake.

  5. I own that leaf blower. It’s unimpressive. Lousy Swedes.

  6. How can these fuckers look at themselves in the mirror when they go home?

    Seriously. If my job was to rob cancer patients (on the other hand, I wouldn’t take such a job in the first place), I’d be afraid of what awaited me in the afterlife. That someone could do something like this and not feel like a piece of crap is beyond me.

    1. A while back I was paying the toll to get on the highway, and saw a state trooper with a truck pulled over on the on-ramp. I mentioned it to the toll taker who said something like “Oh, that cop passes through here all the time. He brags about how he ruins lives. Loves his job.”

      1. He brags about how he ruins lives.

        That’s just it, though. First of all what kind of sadistic shit gets their jollies off ruining people’s lives? I mean, I get that ruining people’s lives is inevitably going to be part of the job. But, how can you actually like it?

        1. “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

          ? George Orwell, 1984

          1. Appropriate

          2. “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.”

            -Frank Herbert

      2. I vomited in my mouth a little reading that… I should be used to it, but I’m still caught off guard by genuine sadistic people who actually enjoy ruining the lives of others.

        What has to happen to a person to trigger that kind of mentality?

        1. Some people are just born mean, and they naturally gravitate towards law enforcement because it gives them power to act on that meanness.

          1. They were the kids who were uncool in school. Not nerds BC nerds are smart and cool BC they earn dollars and don’t have to suck off the foot teat. They were picked on, so they decide after high school “I’m gonna grow a mustache get a gun and a badge and harass my tormentors”. They know nothing of the constitution and what their proper role in society should be. BUT they do know that a 60+ year old cancer survivor is less likely to shoot them, than some real threat to society like a street thug

          2. I swear, these guys must be sadists. Roided out a$$ holes. I know I shouldn’t be surprised with this happening so much.

      3. And when that cocksucking swine finally gets shot by some citizen pushed beyond endurance, the Police Union will threaten anyone who questions his saintliness.

    2. The simple fact is that many government careers are very attractive to psychopaths.

      The worst of them rise to the top.

    3. Bill, it’s simple to answer your question. They can look at themselves in the mirror because they see everything as them against us. Not one of us is worth any respect any more – we are all just dung to them. Ever try to politely ask a cop a question? I have many times in my life and have never once gotten a polite response. The best you can do is just stay away from them and for God’s sake never talk to one.

  7. What stuns me is that when a story like this gets out, no one in guvt gets in trouble at all.

    Why aren’t the citizens demanding heads for shit like this? The story about them coming back the next day and extorting $5K should be enough to get people put in jail.

    1. Why aren’t the citizens demanding heads for shit like this?

      Unless there’s a Libertarian Party in St. Joseph’s County, MI, which party do you think is going to risk being seen as soft on druggies??

      1. Yes, and what prosecutor, DA, or even local attorney will want to get on the cops’ radar? Even if the cops don’t go full retard and actively persecute the local attorney, the prosecutor won’t cut any deals with him, the judges will ignore his objections, and the cops will lie more than usual in all his cases.

      2. If the citizens were the type to be demanding heads for shit like this, then the candidates wouldn’t be worried about being seen as soft on druggies. Ultimately it comes down to the citizens not caring.

        The guvm’nt isn’t telling the citizens what to they think, they’re pandering to what the citizens already think.

      3. Why aren’t the citizens demanding heads for shit like this?

        Because attracting attention to yourself by criticizing the cops is a great way to get yourself investigated and watched until you’re caught committing one of those three felonies a day.

    2. “What stuns me is that when a story like this gets out, no one in guvt gets in trouble at all.”

      Stunned no one got in trouble? They got raises, paid out of the loot.

  8. Why does Michigan get a D-?

    Clearly they deserve an F.

    Grade inflation has really gotten out of control.

  9. $62 from his wallet

    So, it was quite plainly a shakedown? They emptied his pockets. This is revolting.

  10. while obammy goes golfing?

  11. Nut. Punch. Ow.

  12. Ya know, at the age of 72 and a cancer survivor, I could see someone just deciding screw it and gun down this pack of thieves when they arrive. Surprised it doesn’t happen often, really.

    1. Creefer, I think an IED would be more appropriate.
      Hear that, NSA fucks?

  13. Living in Berrien County (which is not that far from St. Joseph County or Van Buren county which is mentioned in another article) I wish I could say this surprised me…unfortunately I would be lying if I did.

  14. Hey, the good news is they didn’t charge him with a crime! That could have been devastating.

  15. If there is a stink, we must investigate. We must gather evidence because evidence makes us see the truth. Is this the stink of a criminal act, or is it a turd in a bag?

    I see cops who lose their way every day, and I don’t like that,
    because their ambivalence is contagious. They infect those around them. They’re like maggots. Where you find one, you find a nest.
    — Robert De Niro in Cop Land (1997).

  16. Scum of the earth. No wonder Detroit has become the $hithole it is. Cops harassing old, and sick. “To serve and protect” my a$$!!!!!

  17. Leaf blowers are a known menace, and I for one am more than happy to see Ceasers soldiers had the fortitude to remove this, lest a neighbor be awoken from a sunday slumber.
    Oh.. it was electric?
    Bastards.

  18. I kind of like that they’re no longer pretending to be anything but armed pillagers.

    I used to be more frustrated by the massive shake down by the medical mafia. Now, I just accept it as their take, and try to spend what they leave me as best I can.

    It’s the pretense of freedom that causes the frustration. Once you get over that, you realize this is the way the world is, and you live your life.

    They are ranchers. You are human cattle. Say it with me now: “Moo”.

    Now didn’t that feel better?

  19. my mum in-law recently got a nice twelve month old Cadillac CTS Vsport Premium only from working parttime off a laptop
    ?????? http://www.jobsblaze.com

  20. OMG you are a sick bunch of thugs. Get over profiteering from the drug war and go get a real job.

  21. And so it goes, and so it goes… That was any pretense that we are a free people running out the door there, folks.

  22. It is hard to believe this stuff happens but from so many articles we know its true. Something really needs to be done about these thieves.

  23. Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.
    Move to a better life…. http://www.Work4Hour.Com

  24. It is so simple; eliminate ALL crimes without victims. Ingesting drugs, paying for sex, gambling for consenting adults, is NOBODY’s business.
    Butt out, govt thugs! Use your efforts capturing dangerous people who kill, steal, or otherwise HURT their victims.

  25. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netjob80.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.