In September, Michigan resident Wally Kowalski, who is an engineer and a licensed medical marijuana grower, came home to a legion of law enforcement officers who had a search warrant for his property. Kowalski had been growing marijuana outdoors in an area secured by a five-foot fence, but officers said he needed a roof over the operation to be in compliance.

So, they searched his property, including his farmhouse, where they seized all of Kowalski’s expensive tools and then destroyed his pot plants. To make things worse, they went through his personal library and office. He says the police were ecstatic when they found evidence of his finances. "When they found my bank accounts here in my office, they let out a yell. They said, 'Here's the bank accounts, we got him.' It's like the happiest thing for them, to find my bank accounts."

Although Kowalski was not charged with a crime, police used the civil assets forfeiture law, which enables them to seize property, etc. without determining that a crime was committed, and froze his bank accounts -- a bad situation that put him in a position to not be able to take care of his financial obligations. But it gets worse.

After a story entitled “Cops Seize Man’s Property, Freeze Bank Accounts – And He Wishes They Would Charge Him With a Crime” was published in Reason, the police returned to Kowalski’s home and arrested him. They charged him with manufacturing 5 to 45 kilograms of cannabis, which is a felony that carries a penalty of 7 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

Under Michigan law, Kowalski is allowed to grow up to 12 plants per person, but the seizure order indicates police found 55 plants. However, he is a caregiver to four other cardholders.

Interestingly, the police have denied that the media attention is what led to Kowalski’s arrest.

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