A Tennessee Democrat Congressional candidate was busted Friday with 180 marijuana plants on her property.
Florence “Flo” Matheson, 77, is currently running for the 6th Congressional District seat currently occupied by Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black, but she now faces legal troubles due to her alleged links to a marijuana growing operation. The plants were discovered inside a barn near her Crossville home when local police and state authorities searched the house, as Fox Nashvillereported.
The Crossville Police Department also found two ounces of marijuana in Matheson’s home, which she bluntly admitted was her personal stash and she smokes two or three times a week, further noting that one ounce was for personal use and the other was to make cannabis oil. She said the raid has only strengthened her resolve to change the laws criminalizing recreational use of marijuana.
“I smoke marijuana. I’m guilty,” Matheson said to Fox 19. “I really don’t regret that this happened. It’s been a life-changing experience for me and in that it has made me more defiant and determined to try and get these laws changed.”
“Authorities said in a statement that police officers and state investigators executed a search warrant Friday and found firearms, cash, processed marijuana, and more than 180 marijuana plants on a Crossville property owned by Florence ‘Flo’ Matheson and Stephen Harrington. Both are facing criminal indictment.”
The Democratic candidate added that she was guilty of nothing more than “possessing a couple of ounces of marijuana,” and claimed she did not know about the weed growing operation in her backyard, claiming her friend and housemate Stephen Harrington, 66, a disabled veteran who was homeless, needed a place to stay, and that he rented out the barn and fixed things around her home. She owned up to the two ounces found inside her home but insisted it did not come from the plants in her backyard.
Harrington was serving three years probation for growing more than 20 marijuana plants at a different home last year. Harrington has defended Matheson, saying she never went into the barn where he lived and didn’t know about the growing operation. He added that he was growing the marijuana for his own personal use to cope with chronic pain he suffers from injuries he received during his military service, and that he has never sold marijuana to anyone living in the area.
“The only thing this woman is guilty of is helping out a homeless disabled vet who betrayed her trust,” he told The Tennessean.
The very candid Matheson said that she believed there was no such thing as bad publicity and that she would use the raid to help her campaign. She admitted to making and experimenting with cannabis oil, according to an interview given to Fox 19.
“I made it,” said Matheson.
“From?” asked reporter Heather Hourigan.
“From leaves that Mr. Harrington gave me, but they were not from his grow because he didn’t have any plants that far along,” Matheson said.
“When he gave you those leaves, where did you think they were coming from?” Hourigan asked.
“I didn’t know and I didn’t ask, but it never occurred to me they were coming from the back of my property,” Matheson said.
“Do you see how people could say you are trying to be a lawmaker but you are breaking the law yourself?” Hourigan said.
“I do, but I’ll tell you I don’t feel that bad about breaking a bad law,” Matheson said.”
Tennessee’s congressional primaries are scheduled for August 4. Indictments are sought for both Harrington and Matheson.
Matheson stated she does not intend to suspend her campaign despite the possibility of a criminal indictment.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]