As a mom of four kids, who also must cope with the debilitating disease multiple sclerosis, Ginnifer Hency had enough to deal with in her life already. But when police burst through her door with guns leveled one day last July, that’s when things really got crazy.
In the raid, the cops took everything. They seized her kid’s bicycles, her husband’s weed whacker, the family’s TV sets, soccer gear, children’s car seats — they even grabbed $85 in cash out of birthday cards meant for her daughter.
And if all that wasn’t enough — and clearly to the police, it wasn’t — they even made off with Ginnifer’s vibrator.
For good measure, they threatened to shoot the family dog, traumatizing Hency’s nine-year-old daughter who cried “for weeks” after the raid, Hency recounted.
What terrible crimes could this beleaguered mom have committed to provoke such a drastic police action against her? What laws had she broken?
The answer is — none. Ginnifer Hency did nothing illegal.
What she did do was use medical marijuana, under the supervision of her neurologist. The drug is effective in managing the pain that results from her MS, a still poorly understood disease that causes a person’s immune system to attack and destroy healthy nerve cells. When the cops raided Hency’s home last year, they found six ounces of legal medical marijuana.
“I was fully compliant with the Michigan medical marijuana laws,” she told the Michigan House Judiciary Committee in testimony this week. “I am allowed to possess and deliver.”
Even though possession charges against her were dismissed for obvious reasons, the police still refuse to return her possessions, and her family’s bank accounts are frozen.
Hency was at the state house testifying to support changes to the state’s asset forfeiture laws, which allow police to seize and keep property owned by drug suspects. The Michigan legislature is considering the changes because Ginnifer Hency is far from the first victim of asset forfeiture abuse by police in that state.
In 2013, for example, a 72-year-old carpenter named Thomas Williams — who was legally growing medical marijuana plants and had a state permit to do so — was raided by a SWAT team who seized his car, his TV, his cell phone, and even tried to take his home.
In 2010, 69-year-old retiree Ed Boyke, a dad of four and Vietnam vet with no criminal record, was raided by police who seized his car, a leaf blower, a big-screen TV and numerous other possessions — then demanded that he hand them $5,000 in cash or else they’d take legal measures to seize his house.
The Michigan law that Ginnifer Hency is requesting to be changed requires police to show only a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning anything better than a 50-50 chance that a crime has been committed, to seize a citizen’s property.
[Image: Michigan House of Representatives]