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Area man mistreats cannabis plants in stolen van

October 14, 2019
(CSA Images/iStock)
A Delaware man stands accused of driving a stolen van filled with 131 pounds of cannabis plants.

The only crime here is the mistreatment of those plants.

Medical marijuana is legal in Delaware, but adult-use cannabis is not. So on Tues., Oct. 8, Dover Police arrested 24-year-old Jaquell McDonald and charged him with three drug-related crimes and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

The police released photos of McDonald’s allegedly stolen van late last week. Based on the visual evidence, it’s clear that the only real crime here was the mistreatment of a cannabis garden (and van) by people with no respect for the plant.

The fruits of prohibition: Trashed cannabis plants, trashed minivan. (Courtesy of City of Dover Police Department)

Clean green recycling?

Dover police said in a statement released last Thursday that a report of a suspicious vehicle led officers to pull over McDonald in the early afternoon. A check of the license plate determined that the vehicle had been stolen out of state police jurisdiction.

Officers searched McDonald and found him to have 72.9 grams of cannabis on his person. Then they opened the van’s sliding door.

“A search of the van led to the discovery of an additional 131.4 pounds of marijuana plants,” reported the police.

No time to put the seat down, apparently. (Courtesy of City of Dover Police Department)

A forest inside

“Search” is a strong word for the investigative effort required.

The interior of the van, according to the police photos, was stuffed with a veritable forest of mistreated cannabis. Full plants look to have been hastily uprooted and tossed into the van. Many branches were crudely broken. Leaves and flowers, deprived of water, wilted and browned. It’s unclear whether McDonald was hauling the waste from a harvested cannabis grow or moving some stolen plants hastily hoiked from their potting soil.

Those arrested are considered innocent until proven guilty, and it may turn out that the van wasn’t stolen and McDonald was just cleaning up after the harvest of a legal medical marijuana facility.

Dirty kief on the back seat: That ain’t gonna just brush off. (Courtesy of City of Dover Police Department)

A tally of prohibition waste

While the Dover police clearly took pride in the bust, it points out the continuing waste and futility of cannabis prohibition.

Stolen van aside, what McDonald may have been doing here—hauling a bunch of trashed plants to either a trimming team, an extraction facility, or a refuse disposal site—is in many states a legal, paid job. Were it not for prohibition, McDonald could have transported the plants in his own pickup truck. Or borrowed a friend’s. Or if he worked for a legal, licensed company, he’d have driven the company van.

But the state of Delaware has chosen to keep cannabis illegal. So what gets trashed are plants, a minivan, and one man’s liberty and career prospects.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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