Green Seized

Pot asset forfeiture


When state police raided Wally Kowalski's southwest Michigan farm in September, they took a bunch of Kowalski's stuff. But they didn't take Kowalski, putting him in the odd position of wishing he had been arrested.

Kowalski, a licensed grower of medicinal marijuana, first drew police attention when cops spotted his plants during a flyover. They contended that he had broken the rules by growing out in the open, even though his garden is enclosed by a fence. During the raid on Kowalski's property, cops destroyed his marijuana plants and seized his power generator. They left his shovels behind, however. He told a local free market think tank, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, that the authorities only seemed interested in taking items that would fetch a good price at auction.

The police also froze the man's bank accounts, which left him unable to pay his student loans and finish the administrative process of bringing his wife from Africa to the United States. Since the police never charged Kowalski with a crime, he found he had no way to clear his name and recoup his possessions. He says he'd have preferred to take his chances before a judge or jury.

Months after the raid (and mere days after the Mackinac Center and reason publicized his plight), Kowalski got his "wish." Police returned in the dead of night and arrested him. He now faces drug charges carrying a seven-year sentence and a $500,000 fine.