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A medical marijuana proponent and consultant was arrested in Massachusetts in October and charged with drug crimes after police raided his home and said he was growing too much marijuana.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Activist Ezra ParzybokAccording to local press reports, Ezra Parzybok, a 41-year-old resident of Northampton, Mass., is set to be arraigned in November on charges including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it. Parzybok was arrested at his home in September, and the charges were announced this month.

Police said a search of the house on Sept. 22 uncovered 67 growing marijuana plants, plus 59 jars containing hash oil and $1,640 in cash. The home was raided by the Massachusetts National Guard’s Counter Drug Unit and the Northern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force as part of a “marijuana eradication” plan throughout Hampshire County in Western Massachusetts.

Cannabis garden spotted from helicopter

Officers used a National Guard helicopter with trained spotters looking for outdoor cannabis gardens. Police said they spotted a garden outside Parzybok’s home, on the second-story porch, and sent a team to raid the house.

Parzybok wasn’t home at the time, but members of the National Guard said they found 21 plants growing on the outdoor porch and along the perimeter of the house. They also found a white paper bag with a green logo and the words “High End,” which contained small jars of several cannabis strains.

Detectives spotted a reflective shield hanging from a backyard clothesline, often a sign of an indoor grow site. When Parzybok returned home 15 minutes later, he gave police his state MMJ card and allowed them to search his home with the help of the Northampton Police Department.

More plants were allegedly found inside, while grow lights and other cultivation equipment were located in the basement, along with more than 20 jars of hash oil and 20 single-gallon plastic bags of dried marijuana in the refrigerator. Police said they identified multiple rooms used at various stages of growth and processing.

Facilitating patient access to marijuana

hydro marijuana plantsParzybok’s lawyer, Michael Culter, acknowledged Parzybok grew cannabis but said he got “caught in the breach” between the legalization of MMJ in 2012 and the practical hardships patients still face in getting the drug.

In other words, Culter said, Parzybok was merely trying to supply patients who had no other way to get their medicine as the new MMJ program made its way through the bureaucratic system. Patients were allowed to grow at home in the time between adoption of the law and the opening of the first medical marijuana dispensaries earlier this year, but not all patients are able to do so.

“Ezra has no comment on police action or the complaint at this time,” Cutler said after charges were announced. “But we expect to formally comment on these actions within the next two weeks.”

Parzybok has long been a significant figure in the local marijuana reform movement, and was helpful in passing the first MMJ law three years ago. The proposal was widely popular with voters, although the state’s new program has run into repeated political and bureaucratic tangles.

“It is my goal to help adults understand this age-old plant and to break cultural stereotypes by being as upfront, helpful, and open as possible,” his website says.

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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