They called it “Weed Whacker Wednesday.”
Police in the New Hampshire town of Marlborough this week made light of a marijuana bust on Facebook, posting pictures of 25 plants the department seized that were growing on a patch of undeveloped private land.
The post, which has been shared more than 500 times as of Friday, also listed some facts about the Granite State’s marijuana laws, and offered the owner of the plants — who had apparently planted the crops on someone else’s property — some personal advice.
“FACT: Possessing small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in NH,” the snarky post read. “FACT: This doesn’t mean you can grow 25 marijuana plants on someone else’s property. FACT: Using your fine-tuned horticultural skills to grow delicious organic tomatoes is much more rewarding and much more legal.”
And if that weren’t enough, the department took the tongue-in-cheek approach at policing one step further: They made a laminated sign addressed to the plants’ alleged owner, stapled it to a wooden stake, and put it in the ground where the marijuana plants were confiscated.
The sign invited the marijuana grower to come down to the police station to pick up their green bounty, if so desired.
“Sorry about your luck,” the sign said. “Plants may be claimed, in person, at the Marlborough Police Department. Please bring your photo ID.”
In 2017, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed into law a bill decriminalizing the leafy drug, a move he called “common sense marijuana reform.”
According to Marlborough Police Sgt. Zachary Byam, who created the Facebook post, possessing small amounts of recreational weed can lead to a fine. But any sort of cultivation or sale of marijuana is still a felony in the state, he said.
With many states — including Massachusetts — rolling back the rules on possessing and smoking marijuana, some Facebook users felt the police could be concentrating on more serious crimes, rather than targeting marijuana growers.
“So glad your [sic] wasting time on plants as hundreds of heroin dealers walk the streets,” someone wrote. “You must be so proud.. [shaking my damn head]!!”
Byam said in a telephone interview Friday that the department decided against an in-depth investigation into who owned the plants — which were found by a person scouting for deer — because it would have been too lengthy and costly to justify the potential outcome.
He said the takeaway is that police tried to uphold their duties under the current laws, with a dash of light-heartedness.
“The best solution was to remove the plants and spread the word,” he said. “It was one of those things where we had to draw the line somewhere, and I think that this was the best decision to be made.”
While some criticized the department, others came to the defense of the officers who placed the humorous sign where they had found the plants. In some cases, people even played along, offering up puns and their own jokes on Facebook.
“I was wondering if you’d like to ‘gift’ me your cool find!,” one person wrote beneath the post.
Police replied: “Finder’s Keepers.”
FACT: Possessing small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in NH. FACT: This doesn't mean you can grow 25...Posted by Marlborough Police Department on Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.