Cops Make Major Hibiscus Bust
Texas cops thought they'd made a major drug bust when they raided a home northwest of Houston last Tuesday. After all, it looked like there were huge marijuana plants growing in the front yard.
"All of a sudden, they burst in with their guns loaded, pointing at me, screaming, 'Get on the floor! Get on the floor!'" northwest Harris County resident Blair Davis told KHOU-TV.
It turns out the tall plants with the narrow leaves arranged in a fan pattern weren't pot plants at all, but specimens of Texas Star hibiscus (search), which Davis grows for his landscaping business.
That didn't convince the 10 or so members of the Harris County Organized Crime Unit (search) who stormed around the house.
"I just put my head down, shook it and said: 'Guys, you are making a terrible mistake. That is Texas Star hibiscus, not marijuana,'" Davis told the TV station. "They just told me to shut up."
At one point, the officers discussed whether the bamboo in the window might be the demon weed as well, Davis told the Houston Chronicle. They also asked him what he planned to do with the watermelons and cantaloupes growing out back.
"What would I do with them?" Davis said he responded.
It turned out a concerned citizen had seen the native Texas plant, which has little white flowers and smooth green leaves — marijuana has rough leaves and dense flowering buds — in the yard and tipped off the authorities.
"My guys went out there, and they looked at the plants and stuff, and they believed them to be marijuana," Lt. Dan Webb told KHOU-TV.
After about an hour, the officers decided the search was over. They gave Davis a "citizen's information card" with the words "closed-report" written on it.
"No apology, no nothing," Davis complained to the Chronicle. "I realize they have a job to do, but this seems a little bizarre."
Lt. Webb defends his officers.
"I'm sure it was traumatic," he told KHOU. "Any time there's a search warrant served at your house, there's gonna be some trauma involved."
Davis thinks the narcotics officers might need a little more training.
"If they don't know what a marijuana plant looks like, maybe they should bring a picture with them," he told the TV station, "before they invade a citizen's home."
This story is both funny and very sad. If cops don't know what a pot plant looks like by now. Then how will they know the difference between a bomb and an empty shoebox?