National Guard, Police, Raid 81-Year-Old Woman’s Property for Single Marijuana Plant

October 7, 2016 Updated: October 7, 2016

Police and the National Guard have raided an 81-year-old woman’s garden to remove a single marijuana plant.

Margaret Holcomb, from Amherst, Mass., admitted to growing the lone plant in her garden. Holcomb said that she hadn’t tried to get a medical marijuana card, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

State Police spokesman David Procopio told the Boston Globe that the marijuana “eradication operation” was conducted with the National Guard. In all, 44 plants were removed from properties in Hadley, Northampton, and Amherst.

“The operation utilizes a spotter from the MA National Guard Counter Drug Program in the helicopter,” Procopio told the Globe via e-mail.

The 6-foot-tall plant was growing in a patch of raspberries. Holcomb said she uses the plant for her glaucoma.

“It’s ridiculous,” Holcomb told the Boston Herald. “This is not what happens in a democratic society. We don’t have people flying over us and watching us, then coming and invading our property. It’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment and not speaking out would be a violation of the First Amendment, as far as I’m concerned.”

Her son, Tim, was at her home when authorities knocked on her door. “We just want the illegal contraband,” he told the Gazette as he was recalling what the officers told him.

Speaking to the Herald, Tim Holcomb told the trooper who knocked that it wasn’t his property and asked him if he had a warrant. “No,” the trooper told him. “Are you escalating? Because if you need a warrant we’ll go get one.”

Procopio added that the plant at her address had been “growing outdoors in plain view.”

“The pilots fly within federal guidelines for altitude,” he said. “Probable cause to search the property is usually established by the trained spotter.”

But she denied those allegations.

“It was not in plain sight. It was way back in the corner of the property in my raspberry bushes,” she told the Globe. “The mowers were here—everybody was here—and nobody knew.”