A Cartersville, Georgia man named Dwayne Perry woke up early one morning to the sound of a low-flying helicopter hovering over his property, and then, within minutes of his awakening, a fully armed and armored SWAT team showed up to his front door. He had no idea what was going on, or why the police were armed the way they were or why they were there ready to raid his house and the rest of his property.
It turns out it was all over his okra plants. The police were positive it was marijuana that this man was growing in his yard. They look somewhat similar, but cannabis has 7 leaves, and okra has 5. I’m a little shocked they didn’t just go in and totally tear his place apart and arrest the guy for growing pot. Thankfully, they sorted everything out when the man showed them that it wasn’t weed that he was growing; it was okra, a popular vegetable down here in the South. A little slimy inside, but it’s good fried.
“I was scared actually, at first, because I didn’t know what was happening,” said homeowner Dwayne Perry.
All he noticed was that there was a chopper sitting unusually low over his house, then Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep in minutes.
“They were strapped to the gills,” Perry said.
It turned out, that helicopter was from the Governor’s Task Force for drug suppression and they were out looking for domestic cannabis plants and spotted the tree and plants.
“Instead, it’s okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house,” Perry said.
Channel 2’s Carl Willis called the Georgia State Patrol, who operates the task force, for an explanation. They sent an evidence photo.
“We’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant,” said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes.
Perry said his plants had five leaves, not seven like on the cannabis plant. He said a mistake like this shouldn’t happen.
“Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing,” Perry said. “Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right.”
The authorities apologized on the scene and again when Willis called.
“If we disturbed them in any manner, that’s not our intent. Our intent is to go out and do our job and do it to the best of our ability,” Stokes said.
But Perry said he doesn’t think those words go far enough.
“The more I thought about it, what could have happened? Anything could have happened,” Perry said.
Perry said he’s still getting calls about all of the deputy vehicles that responded at his home. He fears his reputation has been damaged.
I don’t fault them for making a mistake like this. When you see the plant’s leaves side by side, they do look similar.
The problem here is not so much that the police made a mistake. It’s the law that says that a particular plant is illegal to own or to grow. It’s a plant. They might as well make a law barring anyone from growing okra. I think it’s that ridiculous.