A bird-watcher Robin Brown is suing the Broward State Attonrney's Office for being arrested over a sage smudge stick. Actually, the lawsuit states "negligence and malicious prosecution" as well as "public humiliation, mental pain and suffering." Yes, she got arrested for possession of a smudge stick---sage.
Brown was bird-watching one day in March 2009, and used a smudge stick during the course of her outing that day for praying and giving thanks. On the way back to her vehicle, she met a couple of people; one from the Sheriff's department; the other from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Explaining that she was bird-watching, she opened up her backpack to show them her binoculars and bird manual. That is when the sheriff's deputy spotted her smudge bowl and sage.
Ok, obviously this woman is not a criminal. If you are a criminal, you never open up your backpack in front of the cops...you don't give them an excuse to arrest you.
A field test gave a positive for marijuana. But she was not arrested that day. The smudge stick was sent to the lab for testing. Ninety days later, Brown was arrested at work, very publicly.
Her lawyer in the course of defending her learned that the smudge stick was never actually tested by the lab. When it was finally tested, the lab concluded that the sage was not marijuana. Charges were dropped. Gee, shouldn't this have been tested before she was arrested?
Honestly, I do not think that Robin Brown will win her case, which is currently in appeal.
But what I would like to point out is that something like this could happen to many of my readers. Most kitchen spices will give a false positive in a marijuana field test. And how many of us have walked around with a smudge stick in our backpack or purse? I am guessing many of us.
It is just another one of those sad events that make the cops look like complete morons when it comes to dealing with alternative religious practices.
You can read the original newsreport that I used as a reference on The Palm Beach Post News website.