Take a look at the picture at the start of this article. The one on the left is good ol' cannabis, the plant we know and love. The one on the right is kenaf hibiscus, a plant which is not marijuana. Could you tell the difference?
Well, a Nationwide Insurance agent couldn't - or didn't want to. What followed was an arrest and a lawsuit.
On Oct. 5, the agent spotted the hibiscus plants while investigating a fallen tree on the property of Buffalo Township, PA couple Edward and Audrey Cramer. He then told police they had marijuana on their property, providing photos that allegedly didn't show the flowers that would have identified the plants as hibiscus.
Two days later, police came to the property. Audrey Cramer answered the door, and she alleges that about a dozen officers were pointing assault-style rifles at her. She was kept in handcuffs - without being permitted to finish dressing - and placed under arrest. When Edward arrived at the house a half-hour later, he too was arrested, and the couple were kept in the patrol car for two hours.
Now, the couple is filing a lawsuit against Nationwide Insurance, the agent himself, Buffalo Township, and three of the town's police officers. The lawsuit alleges excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other charges.
"I'm starting to understand why a lot of the public do not trust police officers...I really feel like I've been smacked in the face with this, and no, I don't think I'll ever trust a police officer again."