When a Canadian couple entered their town's local Garden and Art Tour this year, they didn't expect that their participation in this community event would get them in trouble with local police.
Upon returning to their Revelstoke, B.C. home last week, Anna Minten and her husband Emmanuel Levesque Dupere were shocked to find that someone had busted into their house while they were away. The couple's home had been ransacked, but nothing was missing other than the three cannabis plants that they were growing in their backyard.
Near their front door, the couple found a search warrant from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stating that their home had been raided because these pot plants were visible to the public. The warrant said that as of July 28th, cops had “reasonable grounds for believing that the following offenses have been committed: Grown non-medical cannabis that is visible from public place,” according to CBC News. How the Mounties determined the couple's plants weren't cultivated for medicinal purposes is unclear.
Dupere and Minten believed they were fully complying with B.C. law, which allows adults to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use, as long as they are kept hidden from public view. These plants were separate from the rest of the garden, surrounded by high bushes, trees, and a fence. “It was three plants in my garden set back from the road,” Minten told CTV News Vancouver. “You wouldn’t be able to tell what they were from the street.”
But on July 28th — the date referenced by the warrant — the couple opened their garden to the public as part of Revelstoke's Garden and Art Tour. Around 70 to 80 people came to look at the collection of raspberries, flowers, and tomatoes growing in the garden, but one guest took a particular interest in the couple's pot plants. This visitor, off-duty RCMP Cst. Faron Ling, immediately reported the couple for “blatant violations” of the province's pot cultivation law.
“Unfortunately, the violations of [the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act] by some of our residents has brought some negative light to Revelstoke and the Garden and Art tour," Cpl. Mike Esson said in a statement reported by the CBC. "By not properly growing cannabis plants, the residents have opened themselves up to the possibility of theft of the cannabis and drugs falling into the hands of youth in our community."
Gallery — Weed That No One Is Smoking Except for Cops:
After the raid, Minten said she “was incredibly heartbroken,” CBC News reports. “I felt invaded. I felt betrayed by my local RCMP.” The homeowner added that she thought the cops' “actions were unjust, and they could have very easily just come and communicated with me to let me know that I had drawn the line... I'm very disappointed with the waste of resources."
Five days after the raid, Cpl. Esson spoke to Minten in person to let her know that the RCMP would not be pursuing charges against her. "It was a really good conversation — it was honest, it was full-hearted, it was meant to right this wrong," Minten said to CTV. “This is a new law, there's going to be growing pains and I've learned [the laws] are not as pretty as they look and people should be more aware than I was and to be less naive about the exciting news pot is legal — and it wasn't as exciting as it seemed.”
Now that the police have explained their side of things, "the olive branch has come out,” Minten said. “I think we can deal with things without anger... I'm sorry so many people got worked up over this. That was not my intention."