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Don’t visit a hydroponics store in Kansas or Missouri

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2014

For that matter, it’s probably best if you don’t visit a hydroponics store anywhere. And if you brew tea from loose leaves, you may want to switch to those little pouches with tags attached. Otherwise, you could find yourself undergoing the same ordeal as the Harte family of Johnson County, Kansas.

On April 20, 2012, Bob Harte answered an early-morning knock and found an armed SWAT team outside:

It was 7:30 a.m. when he’d heard a knock at the door and pulled himself out of bed to answer it while his wife and two kids slept.  A SWAT team surrounded his home, and a deputy had a battering ram ready to charge through the door had Bob had not opened it.

The deputies pushed Bob to the floor of the entry way of his home and stood over him with rifles screaming, “Where are the children in the home?” Bob told them they were in their rooms and the deputies ran to find them.

The commotion woke his wife Addie Harte who came downstairs to find out what was going on.

“We just kept saying ‘You’re in the wrong house!’ said Addie.

Deputies searched the sofa and then allowed the family of four to sit on it, in front of their picture window, as armed deputies searched the home. For two hours, the family sat on that sofa, afraid and puzzled as to why deputies were in their home.

The Hartes weren’t shown a search warrant until the search was concluded — that’s the law in Kansas. The cops were looking for “narcotics,” but didn’t find anything. The Hartes wanted to know why their house was raided, but no one would tell them.

Kansas has terrible public records laws. It took a year, an attorney, and $25,000 for the Hartes to learn why they were targeted, and the answer is mind-boggling and chilling. Months earlier, Bob Harte and his son went to a hydroponics store in Kansas City, MO, to get some supplies for his son’s science project. Unbeknownst to him, the Missouri Highway Patrol apparently has nothing better to do than monitor hydroponics stores (because they sell equipment often used by pot growers) and record the license numbers and vehicle descriptions of their customers.

Eventually, the information about Harte’s vehicle was conveyed to the Johnson County, KS, sheriff’s office. Deputies were subsequently sent to the Harte home on multiple occasions to rifle through their garbage. That’s where they found Addie Harte’s discarded tea leaves. A field test (notoriously unreliable) identified the tea leaves as marijuana. That led to the raid. The tea leaves were only sent to the crime lab for verification after the raid. Their more accurate test was, of course, negative for marijuana.

The Hartes have filed a federal lawsuit and testified in front of the state legislature trying to get the laws regarding release of police records changed.

“This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be. You shouldn’t have to have $25,000, even $5,000. You shouldn’t have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state,” Addie Harte said.

You shouldn’t have your house raided for such bogus reasons like some sort of police state.

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One Response to “Don’t visit a hydroponics store in Kansas or Missouri”

  1. Rick Shultz said

    I don’t know why anyone is surprised. Everyone has had plenty long enough to learn this IS a police state.

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