The Tragedy of Marijuana Prohibition Strikes Ogden, Utah

Jan 10, 2012 , , , , ,

No family should have to deal with the consequences of the events that occurred in Ogden, Utah on January 3, 2012. So it is with great respect to the families of both Jared Francom and Matthew David Stewart, who no doubt are both dealing with incredible grief of contrasting nature, that I’m offering up these comments.

Whenever a member of law enforcement is killed in the line of duty, like Officer Jared Francom recently was, it’s a tragedy. When the “target” of the military tactical style operation that led to the shootout leaving the officer dead appears to have been a personal marijuana grow, it’s also infuriating.

At 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2012, members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force in Ogden, Utah conducted a “knock and enter” warrant on the home of 37 year-old army veteran Matthew David Stewart. According to reports, they knocked and no one answered. When they forcefully entered his home in paramilitary style gear, with guns drawn, they encountered gunfire. When it was all said and done, one member of the task force was fatally injured, five members were wounded, Stewart was injured and faces likely charges of aggravated murder (which carries the death penalty) and multiple counts of attempted aggravated murder.

According to DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Smith, the victims and other agents involved in this operation are heroes, and they were “protecting the public.” I tend to agree with Agent Smith, members of the task force are heroes, but in this instance, they certainly were not protecting the public.

The only public reports about why Stewart was raided indicate that Stewart had a personal, indoor marijuana grow for medical reasons. It’s been reported that Stewart suffers from PTSD and grew a small amount of marijuana to self-medicate. In addition, it has been speculated that the reason why Stewart failed to answer the knock is because he was asleep at the time. He worked the midnight shift and would typically be asleep at the time the raid was conducted.

So, it seems an army veteran who suffers from PTSD was suddenly awoken to armor-clad armed men in his home and he allegedly opened fire. The army vet now likely faces the death penalty. One officer is dead. Five wounded. Countless lives have been ruined.

I’d like Agent Smith to explain to Stewart exactly why he was a threat to the public. There has been no allegation that Steward sold marijuana, or gave it away to kids, or that he was a danger to anyone before the paramilitary-style raid on his house. In fact, his neighbors were shocked to learn that there was any drug activity in the area, dispelling the notion that Stewart was an immediate threat to anyone. Without making a fuss and without causing problems in his neighborhood, Stewart simply grew marijuana for personal medical reasons.

I’d also like Agent Smith to explain to Officer Francom’s family why Stewart’s personal medical grow warranted the over-the-top means of enforcement that has been linked to so many needless deaths and injuries.

Finally, I’d like Agent Smith to explain to everyone why — as he stated to Fox 13 News — this situation isn’t a legalization issue? Clearly, the officers involved were just doing their job. They were enforcing enacted laws that their superiors wanted enforced. However, if marijuana were legal, this and numerous other prohibition-related deaths, including the death of another Utah man at the hands of this very same task force, would never have happened.

So long as marijuana remains a law enforcement issue as opposed to a public health issue, we’ll keep seeing tragic stories like these. Officers and civilians shot, and often times killed, over a naturally occurring plant that is safer than alcohol. It’s sad and it’s sickening, and it’s about time that we finally rethink our nation’s devastating marijuana prohibition.

54 responses to “The Tragedy of Marijuana Prohibition Strikes Ogden, Utah”

  1. This is an execution squad!!! When I was raided with a search I too could have been shot. Had it not been the cops that already knew me from lots of previous contact, nothing violent, there is a good chance i would not be here. And when the reigning master of norml says that medical mj is a total scam, that does not help. Before prohibition there was NEVER a single death over cannabis, not from an overdose, not from a death squad, and most importantly, not the pot smoker. This act of violence is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. Those cops should be in jail!!! There is nothing that can bring that cop back but we can stop that from ever happenning again. When the facts come out in a court of law, and it will, show just how wrong those cops were. The warrent was not even an arrest warrent, it was for the confiscating of weed and whatever the cops wanted to take if they see fit. Donald trump would never let this happen again. I feel sorry for every one involved. So many lives changed forever, one going to prison for life, one dead, the wounded and so many families destroyed. LEGALIZATION is now, the only answer. Please lord, we have had enough. This I ask god for. I have no faith in our govt anymore. I have to depend on the govt for food support through the winter but I don’t like to. When i watched NBC news the other day when Mrs. Giffords was saying Americas pledge, the part that says” One nation under God” was cut out. My point is legalize and nobody dies, simple.

  2. nope. sorry. dea smith is a moron and a complete piece of shit. Not only is he wasting taxpayers money but getting cops killed over a plant, that grows NATURALLY from the Earth.

    smith…please be useful and go after the real criminals. you know, rapists, murderers, cartels, meth dealers, coke dealers, bathtub labs, sex slaves…c’mon man…you can do better! and if you’re really really bored, go volunteer at a soup kitchen or at a veterns center.

    please man. think.

  3. Its a tragedy any time someone is killed doing their job and when that person is a law enforcement officer it is that much worse. But the people that ordered the raid/assault sounds incompetent and should be fired. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to know that sending armed and armored men into the home of a soldier with ptsd isnt a good idea. They need to stop treating marijuana users as violent criminals. I guess this is what Mr Stewart gets for fighting our safety. The war didnt kill him so now our government does.

  4. Right now as we speak a Mother is setting in a city jail on murder.A very caring loving mother who took a friends child home from Ohio to Kentucky.She left, stopped to get her daughter something to eat, and went on her way,little known to her she had made a wrong turn further down the road she didn’t see the curve,and wreaked.She was giving her own daughter CPR until help arrived.Now because they found a small amount of marijuana in a bag they have charged her with murder.They took her to the Hospital with handcuffs on,and the only reason they did this is because she donated her body so another could live.Anyone else would have been set free but she still sits in a jail all because of a wrong turn from McDonalds,and a small amount of Marijuana

  5. I.m out of words. I don’t think anyone in the gouverment cares.
    DEA has been charged with money laundering in Texas as of Jan 2012, Think anythig is going to happen; certinley not ending a cash cow like proabition.

  6. Correction to my last input. DEA was cout money laundering. Not just charged with the crime. So who is at the the top of the money. If we as tax payers are sending them money and there making more in the drug trade….Where is the money and why is congress ignoring it?????????

  7. Congress is complicit with the rockefeller enacted DEA who enforces the laws that empower big pharma.
    Please read this
    this will show the strings and how they are interconnected with the government and big pharma, not to mention how JD rockefeller successfully compromised the U.S. federal government over 100 years ago, and proceeded to have his son Jr. create and implement the current for profit medical system.
    I call it social engineering. others call it fascism.

  8. This is a shame. Shame on the DEA for raiding this veteran who went and served to keep us safe and in return suffers from PTSD. My husband is also a vet and also suffers from PTSD and I know not to mess with him when he is sleeping! Why couldn’t they have conducted their search at a time when he would not have been sleeping?

  9. It’s simply a home invasion and not an arrest. To add the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force spin, they said that Matthew David Stewart had a bomb and the Strike Force had to defuse it.

    Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force is trying to make Matthew David Stewart an evil bad man, and not as someone who was rightfully trying to protect himself.

    It is a PR stunt by the Weber-Morgan and the DEA that went bad.

  10. From the looks and tone of the article “he worked the midnight shift” growing weed. It doesn’t say, “He had a job in the city where he worked the midnight shift, and was home sleeping during the day”. The writer needs to clarify something here. Was Matthew jobless and growing Marijuana at home? Was it his job to watch, grow, and maintain the “weed” on his midnight shift and others came to this place to maintain the “grow”?
    Please clear this up and then we can all have a better understanding if this was a full time, coordinated grow, or did Mathew – who was “suffering” from PTSD – have a full time, tax-paying job, and was fully functional and able to maintain this full time job – regardless of his PTSD?
    I don’t want to accuse nor do I want to accept this story as biased as long as I have incomplete information. When I get this information, then I can make a fully informed, well thought out comment. Thanks for anyone’s help.
    I choose not to judge – but to try to understand – what the facts are…thanks.

  11. Perspectives like this annoy me. The issue at hand is not “gee folks if we had legalized a drug then no one would have died” Who needs a task force to subdue one pothead growing pot? The man had a gun and opened fire. He was dangerous and it had nothing to do with him growing pot.

  12. the prohibition is destroying our country and is harming everyone stop this war on weed it’s gone way to far enough is enough really how many more people need to die over this stupid useless prohibition on cannabis!

  13. @Mikechew..yea, like the bankers and Federal Reserve. Like JFK and RFK were in the process of doing when they were both murdered.

  14. @ Greg, while I appreciate your skepticism ( there isn’t enough of it these days), you could have followed the links here and found that the veteran did indeed have a job, and probably in less time than it took for you to post.

    @Violet, what would you do if you were sleeping and armed men stormed into your house. Particularly if you had been trained to kill? The issue IS one of legalization, because there is no reason to send heavily armed SWAT teams after people growing a plant, the use of such tactics instantly escalates any situation (increasing the chance of ciolence or accidents), and this man might have been able to more effectively treat his PTSD if he had better access to his preferred medicine.

    Owning a gun and shooting at someone storming your house in the darkness doesn’t make you a danger to your community.

  15. @Joel It was Hoover who sent in Douglas MacArthur to quell the unrest of the World War I vets who had descended upon Washington, DC to ask for an advance against their army pensions in the face of the devastating depression of 1929-1932.

    MacArthur promptly went to work ‘ousting’ the ‘malcontents’ by opening fire on the vets who were camped in tents and cardboard shacks at the ‘Hooverville’ encampment.

    Since the founding of this country, there have always been fights between those who would ‘husband’ power and those who wish to ‘diffuse’ power among the people.

    We see this struggle today, in the form of ‘Republican’ forces vs ‘Democrat’ forces.

    There is a reason why America is and has been so polarized on so many issues, not simply the ‘DRUG REFORM’ initiative.

    When President O’bama is re-elected for a 2nd term, the real push for ‘DRUG REFORM’ legislation at the Federal level will begin.

    In the interim, the issue of sanity is up to the states.

    The Utah state legislature needs to get in line behind Arizona and California and Oregon and Colorado, and the other sisters states of the American West to stop the madness of the War on the Cannabis plant.

    How many more of our returning soldiers must be executed on the altar of insanity?

    How many more of our local police officers need to die in the pursuit of an absolutely worthless and demented Federal prohibition against the HARMLESS Cannabis plant and her patients?

    Do the Math!

    Vote ‘Yes’ this November 2012 for your local Medical Marijuana Initiative.

  16. @ JK Well, it looks like the violence up in Utah has shaken the Governor of Arizona enough to reconsider her stance on whether or not to allow the opening of dispensaries in Arizona.

    On Friday, the 13th, no less.

    Here’s the ‘tweet’ and a link to her press conference report from today.

    Az Gov Brewer Lifts Ban; Says ¡Si! to New Cannabis Dispenary for Maricopa Co. C=> #FreeMarc #FreeHemp #GotTree?

  17. I would think that if the police knew they were entering the home of a vet with PTSD, they would not want to set up a conflict by charging in wearing masks and riot gear. I consider it overkill considering they were there just to uproot plants. Apparently they thought he was a “terrorist marijuana-grower.”

  18. if i was on that jury, i would vote not guilty. the man was clearly defending himself and his property. the people need to stand together. nothing can happen to a juror from voting not guilty no matter what the facts no matter what the crime the man is charged with.

  19. Horrible, should not have happened. This is our tax dollars at work. PTSD…is a very serious condition. There is a book called “In the Realm of the Hungry Spirits” by Gabor Mate. In it, he talks about the many patients where he’s been working for 20 years, on a skid row in Canada. He talks about addiction and the extreme trauma that every single one of his patients went through which is why they self-medicate so heavily with street drugs. When people who have PTSD medicate with pot, it’s much, much better than the things that people with PTSD medicate are known to medicate with, like hard street drugs and nasty pharmaceuticals.

  20. Violet, if you had a gun and were sleeping and woke up to masked me raiding you’re house, I am pretty sure you would also shoot in order to defend yourself. I would. I wouldn’t lay there and wait to see what would happen. When you’re in danger, you defend yourself. It’s animal instinct

  21. It wasnt to long ago here ( we just celebrated 10 years) that my friends at Rainbow Farms were executed by Federal agents. If it were not for the events of 9/11 this would have been another Ruby Ridge. The public should react to these kind of para military raids for non-violent marijuana users. This should be the “Occupy Movement” !!

  22. Another senseless death over a plant,what’s next,is our ruthless government going to prohibit tobacco and start executing tobacco plantation owners & family members for something that’s grown from the earth that God intended it to do,it’s a personal human choice to grow something that heals,our laws need changing now!

  23. The raids will be coming to you or neighbors’ homes soon. FEMA camps are being staffed (need a job? they’re hiring.) and the emergency will be orchestrated by U.S. to create the problem. Then the rounding up of citizens will take place. Good vs. Evil

  24. Union Cops are Communist garbage. We owe no loyalty or protection to those who spit on our constitution like the bastard cops mentioned. In all states cops have evolved into murdering scum. I have learned from going to three wars what a communist looks like..and they are now in charge!

  25. Its a sad sad story to hear, especially when they could have easily just asked him or tailed him to WORK on nightshift or asked his neighbors. Instead a highly trained soldier back from a place where you are on guard 24/7 ready to snap, is awoken from sleep by men with guns and armor, try to do this logically, but WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!!!

    He was a working citizen taking care of himself! Trained to be a killing machine in combat!! The Execution Squad had this coming and tho it is sad to hear that one suffered a fatal wound they all had it coming to them. This is an outragious act of violence against an otherwise peaceful man.

    Not only was this man upholding his oath as a Soldier of the United States of America, but he will most certainly be put to death for the actions of a tyrannical Drug Tzar system. My sympathies go to his family and friends and fellow soldiers, for they have lost another man on the field of battle.

  26. blame this on the one who gave the “order”… speechless and full of tears over this one, another one, a story we shouldn’t even be reading about in this day and age. LEGALIZATION! SHit like this is why i chose to take a stand and support legalization efforts here in America and abroad. PTSD versus officers, over weed = death change the . Marijuana Policy Project

  27. If the facts are as I have read here and elsewhere, I too would vote not guilty if I was on the jury. I don’t know which is more mind boggling; that in the land of the free we still have this prohibition on something that is less harmful than alcohol or that a number of heavily armed men can demolish your front door and burst into your house for a few plants. I dimply don’t understand how a judge in good conscience could issue a search warrant.

  28. This is sad to here that a man lost his life for something so dumb to began with, but at the directions of a fools . Who ever ordered the raid needs to resign his post and be jailed for puttting his agent at such a risk for something that could have been dealt with totally different. Busting doors for pot is just crazy when there are real crimes being committed all around us.

  29. Yet another act of ignorance and stupidity at the hands of a few harmless mj plants. Agent Smith you are an utter ass wipe and dumb shit. YOU got a cop killed and others injured. How can you justify your actions, especially to the fallen cops family. “Your husband gave his life defending the public from the devil plant called marijuana”? Get real. I too am a vet with PTSD and if that happened to me, I would come out shooting too. We need to ban together and get the charges dropped on behalf of our Army vet . America needs to get educated about MJ and PTSD, Law enforcement needs to pull it’s head out of there ass. I’m sorry but the tactics used in this case were way over the top and the cops really got what was deserved. Agent Smith, how are you going to live with yourself?

  30. I think there is a lack of compassion in this article. I dont think the police should have raided the house in the style they did.
    But to defend the death of human being because they didnt act sensible in the name of marijuan legalization is just as An injustice as the energy of agression taken during the raid. These our the same tatics used by the the suporters of those who favor keeping
    The holy herb ilegal. How can we legalize marijuana if we are arousing agression toward people we need to work cooparoptively
    With. This is the problem with some liberals. The great master christ said love your enemy; only through love. And compassion
    And understanding will we change our laws.

  31. If the cops had a search warrant issued by an impartial magistrate, how would they have had reasonable suspicion to ask for one, given that the neighborhood was shocked to learn that there was a “threat” present? Obviously a neighbor, friend, or family member snitched on Stewart. I wonder how Snitch feels about him or herself now that people have been killed and wounded. What a waste of time and public resources.

  32. This story is tragic but should have included information about the status of Medical Marijuana legalization in Utah. Also, how many plants were in his personal grow and what is the State allowable number. In California it is 6 mature or 12 immature plants under SB 420. I suspect he had a large grow and, as a physician who authorizes and responds legally to medical cannabis patients needs, I regret to say he was likely cultivating for sale to have generated the focus of federal authorities.

  33. Tragic……as a gulf war vet also coping with ptsd im angered. How can an “investigation” be done enogh to justify a knock and smash warrent, yet this logicial conxlusion not be concidered….perhaps if these “death squads” encountered painful fortifications they would be more responsible planning.

  34. What ever happened to my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
    That was repealed throught the efforts of William Hearst who didn’t want hemp oil to compete with the products made by Dupont in which he held many shares!
    Today’s American Law system is a travesty of justice and the original ‘American Way’ George Washington, who grew marijuana as ah herb to relieve stress, in his white house garden, stood for!

  35. Sorry to say if someone broke in my door I would start shooting as well. The police officer paid the price of our stupid laws regarding Marijuana. It’s about time that the public changed this – the only reason this substance is still illegal is because of the $30 billion spent each year to prevent it. Those that are on the recieving end of the money control Congress.

  36. First my sympathies to dead officers family, and to all those wounded in this atrocity. Everyone has made some very interesting points, Robert Hempaz RESPECT mon! your spot on. a couple points noone made that I noticed was with all their para-military training, where Is there Intel?!? Don’t they have to provide some sort of Proof beyond “we think he is going cannabis” to get the green light on this? wouldn’t they then know his work schedule? and that he was a vet? doesn’t that get you at least the benefit of the doubt in this world anymore? furthermore the man had seen combat, whose to say what he could have been reliving in his sleep at the moment the rammed his door and came in behind a wall of bright light. Like i said my heart goes all to all caught in this cross fire, the police officers were likely just executing orders. to the man who issued these orders, I don’t know how you sleep at night.

  37. DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Smith is the one who should be behind bars. He is responsible for the death of Officer Jared Francom.
    The DEA needs to be defunded – they totally misuse the tax $$$ they are afforded.

  38. Robert Capecchi – I have to commend you for keeping it diplomatic. Screaming and ranting won’t get us where we want to be. I’m not sure reason and civility will either, but when you present an argument like this, people may disagree with your argument. Name calling and hatred get returned in duplicate.

  39. C’mon people,most cops are on a power trip! Protect and serve my ass.They protect each other,and they serve their masters,they don’t give a shit about the people.This is from a non user, non drinker,and don’t even smoke cigs.The laws keep lawyers judges and bondsmen rich,and the prisons full of non violent people.Defund prisons,the commisarys in prisons,and all drug task forces.They are a shameful comment on america!!I used to have the greatest respect for law enforcement,but no more.Heros,My ass,gestapo is more like it! James

  40. the dividing line between idiotcracy and now is growing thiner as long as fools like this are allowed into law enforcement, we need a new model before more innocents are killed for naught…remove these violent ones from the police, violence begets violence…simple, with more returning vets the stupid violent cops face further killings in their ranks..

  41. It is time to call or write letters to our U.S. Senators and represenatives and tell them to repeal the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

  42. My father was also a vet and the Kentucky task force shot him with his hands in the air.. in 1993. My father had a personal cannabis garden and he was made to look like a criminal he was not. Police were calling it a hostage situation while they frightened my mother from leaving with me and made no attempt to speak with my father or to arresting him. Task forces should not exist, there are other ways to handle problems. Prohibition must end! Thank you MPP

  43. hey folks: mizzoorah medical toker here. Our state of Missouri has dealt with these “multi-jurisdictional task forces” for some time now.
    They are felt to be cost effective for rural and exurban law enforcement, just a simple pooling of resources. convenient for federal funds to be slung around. But some of our citizens have been successful at getting convictions overturned on the basis of jurisdiction. Sometimes, these task forces actually lack any official jurisdiction and their actions will not stand up to a close legal scrutiny. Missouri law does not provide for a sherrif’s department to sell off its authority to these high bidders. When your local law dogs foist a task force on you, it may negate their legal authority to act. There may be election procedures that require a task force be approved by some body of voters before the authority of your local elected sherrif is usurped by a federal agency.
    This was the case in one of those overturned convicitions: a citizen found his sherrif’s department required voter approval before joining the sherrif’s department with another county’s task force.
    Another problem with these interagency task forces is the stepping on charter issues for the agencies. For example, a sherriff’s department will often rely on the conservation department to provide the rural mantracking and surveillance skills of game wardens. But these jobs sometimes fly in the face of that agencies charter. Game wardens are state law enforcement for sure, but their agencies charter can have those enforcement missions curtailed by limits in arrest powers or specific law they are allowed to enforce. Not every kind of cop is allowed to police every kind of law.
    I am trying in vain to find case law about these issues, but its hard. usually the cases which overturn drug arrests are rapidly buried in gag orders and secret police secrecy, for they certainly don’t want it known how much money gets wasted when a several year several agency task force investigation peters out into overturned arrests and convictions. Keep a close eye out on your local law enforcement versions of earmarking and cake eating: they may be operating illegally without any police powers but the ones they imagine they have.

  44. DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Smith is a psycho serial killer who is obsessed with marijuana and making a political show to the media of his deadly crusade and his warp sense of public safety to justify his murdering death squad. He is a complete psychopath with a gun and no one in the federal government can do anything about it.

  45. I found the swat team coming through my door to be the most traumatic experience of my live, and has left my with PTSD. They had no warrant and did not knock, they used a ram to kick the door down, and arrested me and my girlfriend with no probable cause for a non violent crime that is a public nuisance ordinance. I was so traumatized, by their threats that I allowed them to take me to court, and sentence me with out an attorney within 4 hours of my arrest, and yet my girlfriend bonded out and got the charges dismissed because they didn’t even have a case. We have given law enforcement way too much power over petty offenses and I think this shows they have way to much money in their budgets, and let me also mention that recent studies show, that cops buy sex from kids, sexual abuse kids and have more cases of domestic violence than any other profession in the USA. Many of them to include many attorney generals are bullies, and abusers themselves.
    More cops buy sex from exploited teens than anyone else, 69% of these exploited teens are UNGOVERNABLE RUNAWAYS. … …

    Tribute to survivors of child sexual assault by law enforcement officers.,0,807167.story

  46. Repel the stamp act of 1937 – Stop killing and jailing innocent civilians over the tree of nutrition, the Genesis Tree, utilized by our founding fathers to build and sustain America – such a shame in a nation that prides itself on Liberty and Freedom, who stuffs its jails and prisons with our kids and neighbors! Long live beautiful young Stewart, slaughtered by Utah’s oppression and tyranny!

  47. So my son got pulled over moving from nevada back to New Jersey , and got pulled over in summit ut. Does he need a lawyer? Or just pay fine? He had less than an once of weed, they searched his vehicle and didn’t find anything, but they asked him if he had any weed, and he told them where it was! But was under an ounce !! So as a mother, what is it I have to do ??? How much is it gonna cost me in fines?? Please let me know!!

  48. This is an interesting article and so I thought I would throw my two cents in on a weird moment with one of the officers involved in this raid. I spoke to a cop that was involved in this event and after hearing what he had to say I have completely changed my view on our local authorities and the things that happen around us each day.
    This officer told me after he was let go from the force due to irreconcilable differences with his job and the policies they want to mandate and follow and with this case it was surprising to hear that that raid was a a big mistake. He was told early in this invasion that he was there to help backup the other cops as they had to go in and get back what was theirs and he was not told much more than this. After spending a considerable amount of time with him i soon could see that this event was planned by (?) and the intent was very different than it turned out and that the cops were their to do a payback or maybe a get even type event and when they went in( without a knock according to him) yelling and without any other alert than kicking in the door and yelling he responded accordingly. I don’t know if any of this is real or not but in meeting this guy and hearing the story with his emotion and passion for what had taken place it was clear to me that there was some solidity to his story. Things that make you go HMMMMMMMM.

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