Dear HIGH TIMES,

I spent my formative years in New York during the late '60's, so the appeal and gradual love affair with nature's perfect plant was as magical as it was mystical. Almost 40 years later, I still was enjoying delectable bud AND my freedom. These years included working as a teacher, an environmentalist, a surfer, a rancher, a horse owner, and recently, a grower. After moving from California to Utah for more open space (right after a horrific divorce), I built a secluded greenhouse and began a wonderful growing operation, producing beautiful Sinsemilla. All was peaceful in the wild!

That is, until the beginning of the last school year, when one morning I was taken out of my class and escorted to the teachers' parking lot, where two drug task force vehicles were blocking my car, surrounded by 5-6 pure pigs. In total shock, I was shown a warrant to search my car and my home for marijuana and marijuana plants. There was nothing in my car, as I maintain a low profile and only indulge in the privacy of my home. So, handcuffed and headed to my house, I kept wondering how in the world did anyone find out about this? I later discovered that my ex-wife had told someone that I grew marijuana in the past, that person had informed the police, and the police began surveillance.

Here was the surveillance: My harvest was ending, and I was cutting the crop to hang and dry. When I did this, I carefully spread the used potting mix along some backyard bushes. The roots and stump were crushed and placed in some plastic bags, and thrown away with my garbage. Well, one night when my trash can was out and ready for pick-up, a group of PIGS took my garbage and sorted through it for any evidence. What they found was the crushed roots and some finished incense sticks. That was enough for a search warrant, and in Utah, cultivation of ANY amount is a 2nd degree felony.

So, I am sitting handcuffed in my living room as 5-6 pigs search my place for evidence. One sat near me, telling me they would work with me if I told them who I sold this stuff to. I said it was for personal use, and he shot back there was no way this much good stuff was for personal use. As I mentioned before, I was harvesting, so all the plants/buds were bagged. I had already taken down the grow lights and fans, basically shutting down the operation. But the pigs found all this in boxes, from the lights to the timers and the fertilizers. They also found a rifle (a rifle purchased more for show than anything) in the back of a closet, which now adds another felony.

This occurred in September of 2005. I lost my teaching job; I was unable to collect unemployment due to the reason for discharge; my teaching license is in the process of being revoked; and, I am still waiting for trial. Presently, there is a plea bargain, but my lawyer (affiliated with NORML) doesn't want to accept it. Instead, he has submitted a "Motion to Suppress" based on how the search warrant was obtained, and we have a court date set in April. So, now I sit in limbo, unemployed, disgraced, embarrassed, and broke. Yes, my life has truly been broken...as well as my spirit.

A few things as outcome: First, I hate the pigs and these, pointless pot laws more than ever before; I will NOT stop smoking, although I am cooling it for a while; I have joined and am active in NORML (and encourage people to join and support the cause).

I had been living a clean, decent, contributing life for over 55 years. The only time I was ever involved with police was for a speeding ticket or two. I have tried to be considerate and kind to my fellow man. Right now, I am very depressed and disgusted. I never thought it would happen to me, but it surely did. And because smoking a plant is illegal, I now have a criminal record. All I can only tell you is, be careful, because until these asinine laws are changed, this same thing could happen to you. And rape, child abuse, car theft or whatever else in your community may go undetected solely because some drug task force pigs are going through your garbage while you sleep. And in the morning, you become a felon!

Keep the Faith,
StanMan