Crime

Anyone missing 4 marijuana plants? Missouri cops say owners can come and get them

Police in the Missouri city of Ozark were led to four potted marijuana plants on Sunday. On Facebook, they said owners can come and claim them —  if they dare.
Police in the Missouri city of Ozark were led to four potted marijuana plants on Sunday. On Facebook, they said owners can come and claim them — if they dare. Ozark Police Department

Anyone out there missing four fresh, green, healthy marijuana plants — pot growing in their own pots?

If you are, the police in Ozark, Mo., have them, found Sunday by a resident walking on public lands. The plants even had a sign propped out front: “Keep Off the Grass.”

It wasn’t quite clear if the sign was a warning for others not to take the plants, or a proud proclamation of abstinence by those leaving them behind.

No matter. Police in the town of 20,000 residents south of Springfield took possession. On Sunday, the department posted an invitation on its Facebook page: “If you’re the owner please contact the Ozark Police Department to make arrangements to have the plants returned. Thank you.”

Growing marijuana in Missouri is, of course, illegal. Anyone laying claim to the plants is likely to receive a complimentary pair of handcuffs.

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“They were already potted, and actually the sign that was propped up in front of them — they were sitting on that sign,” said Ozark Police Chief Tim Clothier. “They were well-maintained by whoever owns them.”

No one has claimed them so far, and no one is expected to, Clothier said Tuesday. He’s not sure what the motivation of the owner might have been.

“I don’t know,” he said. “There’s a thought among some criminals, if you’re going to break the law, do it right out in the public. Nobody will ever notice. “

The police are not taking great care of the plants. They are in an evidence locker, he said, and are not being watered. They’ll be kept for 30 days and then destroyed.

In 2017, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration destroyed nearly 17,000 marijuana plants grown in Missouri, up from about 4,000 plants in 2016. Kansas, meantime, destroyed only 66 plants in 2017, according to DEA figures, compared to some 3,300 plants the year before.

The number of plants destroyed in each state seems to vary radically year by year. In 2014, for example, the DEA in Kansas destroyed more than 16,000 plants, while in Missouri it destroyed about 7,000.

In Ozark, the police will add four more.

“They’ll probably be useless by the time we pull them out of our evidence room,” Clothier said.

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