Mark M. Cheser 35 Years of Criminal Defense Experience
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Couple detained over hibiscus plant

Imagine going about your usual morning routine when there is suddenly a loud knock on the door. You open it and, as you stand there only half dressed, you find yourself suddenly surrounded by police questioning you about illegally growing marijuana. This is exactly what happened to a couple in Pennsylvania.

The man and wife, both in their late sixties, found themselves sitting in the back of squad car for hours while police searched their property for the alleged marijuana plants. The couple ended up in this predicament after a neighbor's tree fell in their back yard and they called their insurance to file a claim. When the insurance adjuster came out to assess the damage, he took pictures of their hibiscus plants. The adjuster thought the flowering plants were marijuana and decided that the couple must be part of a drug operation. He did his civic duty and reported the couple to the police. Two days later, the police came calling with assault rifles and prepared to bust a drug ring, based on cellphone's pictures of a hibiscus plant in the elderly couple's backyard.

New Jersey, like many other states, has laws concerning controlled substances, such as marijuana. For example, New Jersey allows the limited use of marijuana for medical purposes, but still has strict laws concerning cultivation, distribution and selling the substance. Even with such laws in place, there are still procedures that police must follow and, as illustrated in the story above, they can very easily make a mistake.

While the case of the elderly couple in Pennsylvania did not end with criminal charges for growing marijuana, there have been other cases across the country where people have gone to jail due to law enforcement officers misidentifying suspected illegal substances.

If you are facing drug possession charges in the Essex area, it is important to remember that you still have rights and options. With a proper defense, you can fight back against charges and possibly avoid ending up with a drug conviction on your record.

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