A low-flying Massachusetts National Guard helicopter over quiet Bolton signaled the marijuana harvest season has arrived. The helicopter was a show of force by state government over a couple of marijuana plants in a yard. It was not an illicit cannabis operation like the one Mary-Louise Parker ran for eight entertaining seasons on the Showtime series “Weeds”.
The helicopter was followed by the arrival of police at a Bolton home. A couple of marijuana plants that were growing outside were yanked from the ground and taken away. Police explained the new rules of growing marijuana at home.
Cannabis policy remains complicated because legalizing and regulating marijuana created competing interests. The 2021 law expanded the number of growers and retailers that provided medical marijuana to patients in a 2012 act. State government awards licenses to approved entities under a Rubik’s Cube of rules that include investment capital, expertise and social equity considerations.
The 2021 law allows individuals to grow their own marijuana at home. That provision of the law came into effect on July 1. An adult may grow up to three mature and three immature plants at home. A household is limited to 12 plants. The plants must be grown inside in a locked area.
“Adults who choose to grow their own cannabis should use safe and healthy gardening practices for growing any products they intend to consume,” said DCP Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli, in a June statement. Not everyone understands the layers of rules.
For the public, the law made marijuana legal. The competition for licenses to grow and sell the drug is for a select group of people with money, influence and the right profile. For cannabis consumers, you can use it and not worry about being arrested. That’s all they need to know.
Town governments continue to decide whether to welcome or prohibit cannabis businesses within their borders. Cannabis is a big and volatile business. Combinations of people with access to investment money and access to state officials see a chance to ring the bell and begin to make a fortune or add to the one they already enjoy.
The federal government has not made the same decision about marijuana. It continues to treat it as an illegal drug. It provides states funds to fight the growing, manufacture, sale and consumption of those illegal drugs. What state ever turned away money for drug enforcement? Connecticut takes it even for a drug that is now legal.
As expected, the legalization of marijuana has brought out the entrepreneurial spirit in our neighbors. Some have grown the plant in their gardens this summer. The happy harvest season is upon them. It provides an incentive for the state’s narcotic task force to waste time and money scaring the daylights out of some eastern Connecticut towns in the pursuit of a few cannabis plants.
Technology allows drug analysts to figure out where tiny numbers of marijuana plants are growing. It is located from a helicopter that has alarmed the targeted neighborhood. Police then descend on a neighborhood to pull a couple of plants out of the ground. Officers, according to the Connecticut State Police, then explain the law to the residents of the home and go on their way. The skies return to silence and rattled neighbors wonder what just happened. In Bolton, residents baffled by the insistent beat of helicopters close above for a distressing 30 minutes, worried aloud to each other that police were hunting a fugitive hiding in their neighborhood.
Have opioid overdoses fallen to zero in Connecticut? If so, someone ought to be announcing that good news. If not, stop wasting money on obtaining a helicopter from the Massachusetts National Guard and concentrate on opioids. I know you are wondering why “Operation two plants” required a helicopter from our neighbor. Connecticut’s helicopters are Blackhawks (of course) and Chinooks, unsuitable for identifying marijuana plants from the sky, according to Connecticut National Guard Public Affairs Officer Dave Pytlik.
There are better ways to make a point about where you can and cannot grow marijuana in Connecticut. Companies competing in the marijuana license sweepstakes last year paid millions in application fees to the state. That money will buy plenty of public service announcements that explain the rules.
The taxes imposed on the sale of marijuana by license holders will provide plenty more money for state coffers to explain the intricacies of our cannabis statutes.
Come down to the ground and concentrate on what can prevent the most harm—and it is not a couple of plants in a yard.