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Missouri professor charged with growing marijuana at home

A professor from Northwest Missouri State University was arrested Friday on suspicion of drug crimes. Authorities did not open a lengthy drug crime investigation before taking the 57-year-old man into custody. Instead, authorities were looking into an alleged threat that authorities claim the man posted during a Facebook discussion with another professor.

Apparently, law enforcement believes that the man posted comments online that drew suspicion. Authorities claim that the man made comments that reminded investigators of a mass shooting on a Texas campus back in the 60s. Police descended upon the man’s home Friday to arrest him for his online chat. But, prosecutors did not charge the man with any threat, as authorities have no idea if the online communication had any threatening quality, or if the comments were simply a joke.

Unfortunately, police used the arrest for the man’s alleged commentary to conduct a search of his home. During the raid, officials claim that the man was running an urban marijuana grow at his residence. Prosecutors claim that police seized 10 marijuana plants and drug paraphernalia in the search. He has been charged with unlawful possession and production of marijuana.

Generally, Missouri courts know that the home is a place that deserves the greatest amount of protection under constitutional principles against governmental intrusions. Law enforcement generally cannot simply plow into someone’s home to conduct a raid in the absence of a search warrant. It is not clear from media accounts what really happened, or what processes were involved before law enforcement went to the professor’s residence to investigate the alleged online joke.

Criminal investigations can become unlawful when constitutional principles are not followed. Many pundits argue that defense arguments over constitutional protections are in essence “technicalities.” It is important to note that the same Constitution that allows for criminal laws and enforcement efforts to exist, limit how the government can proceed. The limitations provided in the Constitution are not any more of a technicality than the powers granted to the government.

Source: UPI, “University professor arrested for threatening mass shooting," Sept. 8, 2013

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