Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Drug War Madness

Via PZ Myers comes a most disturbing story:

Landscape contractor Blair Davis was in his northwest Harris County home around 2 p.m. Tuesday when there was a knock at his door.

Davis said he hadn't even gotten his hand on the doorknob when it flew open and he was looking at the barrel of a pistol.

Behind the gun were about 10 members of the Harris County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force, who burst into the home, guns drawn, and began shouting at him to get down on the floor.

There on the floor, Davis said, it took a while to figure out that what had caused the swarm of lawmen to descend upon him was the hibiscus in his front yard.

That's right, hibiscus.

The foliage of the Texas Star hibiscus, a native plant that's growing in popularity, vaguely resembles that of marijuana.

But: "It's got white buds on it," Davis said. "Hello."

Davis had several of the plants in his yard, where he grows stock for his business.

"They were in containers," he said: "I don't want to say potted plants."

Evidently, some well-meaning but horticulturally challenged citizen turned Davis in. Davis said the team of narcotics officers combed his house for about an hour, at one point discussing whether red and gold bamboo growing in his window might be marijuana. They also asked what he did with the watermelons and cantaloupes growing in his back yard.
Frankly, I think Mr. Davis concedes far too much to the authorities when he notes that his Hibiscus flowers had white buds; he's implicitly stating that he believes that they would have been within their rights to come shoving a gun into his face if only he actually had been growing marijuana, a notion I absolutely refuse to endorse. If ever there was a justification for a right to privacy, this whole drug war nonsense would be it, and yet the Supreme Court has beeen too timid to draw the necessary conclusions. If people want to grow marijuana or even opium in their back gardens, it ought to be no one else's business but their own, just as long as they don't violate any of the ordinances one would expect any cultivator of plants in a residential area to abide by.