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Massachusetts State Police, National Guard seize elderly cancer survivor’s pot plants

Last week, Massachusetts State Police officials working in tandem with National Guard drug eradication agents flew a black helicopter above the Cape and Islands and then raided an elderly Martha’s Vineyard farmer’s property to seize his marijuana plants. The man, 81 year-old Paul Jackson, had grown pot plants for years, and used them to make tea to treat pain from his cancer and multiple friends’ illnesses. He doesn’t smoke pot, he told a local newspaper, but finds that marijuana tea has worked wonders. He has even gotten friends off of opiates and onto weed for pain treatment, Mr. Jackson said. 

None of that mattered to the state and federal officials who spent taxpayer dollars raiding his property—which Mr. Jackson says they did without a warrant—and seizing his plants. Over the years, Mr. Jackson has received hundreds of awards for his organic farming from the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair. 

In 2015, the Government Accountability Office reported that the US military spent nearly $3 billion on National Guard anti-drug operations between the years 2004-2015, including marijuana crop eradication efforts.

The Martha’s Vineyard Times reports on the raid against Mr. Jackson:

“I told them they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re destroying it and it could be used for good purposes,” [Jackson] said. “I know because I went through it before. You wrote about it in The Times. I had the article framed, took it out to show them; I said, ‘This is proof of what it does,’ but they didn’t want to hear it.”

Mr. Jackson was referring to a February 2013 article,” Love, life, and death: A Martha’s Vineyard marijuana story,” in which he described how cannabis tea had helped Mary, his wife of 53 years, through the pain of pancreatic cancer and the ravages of chemotherapy. Mr. Jackson said they forsook the morphine prescribed by her doctors, and substituted cannabis tea for pain management.

“I never ever saw pain in her face,” he said. “She was eating and happy, right up until she died. You had to see it to believe it. People don’t understand it. It’s a beautiful plant and it works beautifully.”

Over the years, Mr. Jackson has given away cannabis to others in pain. “There’s another fellow I’ve given it to, his wife has cancer bad,” he said. “They mix it with her food and it’s really helping her. Another fellow had a tube down his stomach and his wife would pour [tea] down his tube for the pain. And it worked. At least there’s no damn pain in it. I gave another guy some, he was taking seven different pills a day. I talked to him a month later and he said he’d gotten rid of three of those pills. It works on all kinds of different things.”

The local District Attorney—who opposes ballot initiative 4, which would legalize marijuana for adult use—denied playing any role in the raid. He also wouldn’t give his opinion on it. “My opinion doesn’t matter,” he told the newspaper.

© 2024 ACLU of Massachusetts.