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Buffalo Twp couple arrested when hibiscus mistaken as marijuana

Their insurance agent came to their house to investigate a fallen tree. It seems that agent took it upon himself to perform a more serious investigation. After noticing some unusual plants in the back yard of his clients' Buffalo Township home, he sent pictures to the police.

Rather than sending an officer around to confirm that the plants were marijuana, the Buffalo Township Police Department sent in a crack team armed with assault rifles. Audrey, 66, was pressured to open the door immediately and did so, wearing only a bra, underpants and a short top.

Immediately, the police pointed guns at Audrey and told her to put her hands in the air. They said they had a search warrant, although they didn't show her one. Not allowing her to put on her pants or shoes, the officers handcuffed her and put her in the back of a squad car, she said in a press release.

She asked what they wanted. They said they were searching for marijuana. Immediately, Audrey realized their mistake. She told them the plants with the spiky leaves were actually hibiscus, a perfectly legal decorative plant.

The police told Audrey that her husband had lied about the identity of those plants.

When her husband Edward, 69, arrived home about a half-hour later, he found his wife in the back of a police cruiser -- and officers who would not listen when he offered to prove the plants were not marijuana. They pointed guns at him, then searched and arrested him.

"They actually ignored me," Edward said. "They wouldn't even listen. I said, 'I can show you pictures on the internet.'"

The police performed an extensive search of the home, causing damage. Meanwhile, the couple spent four hours in the cruiser until a police sergeant admitted the officers had found no marijuana -- only hibiscus. They were released without being charged with anything.

"I'm starting to understand why a lot of the public do not trust the police officers," said Audrey. "I'm starting to see a lot on TV where I thought, 'No, you have to be wrong because the police wouldn't make such a bad mistake.' Yeah, they would."

To top it all off, Nationwide Insurance tried to cut off their coverage for having marijuana plants on their property. In this instance, Nationwide was not on their side.

The couple is suing the Buffalo Township PD, their insurance agent and Nationwide. They are seeking compensation for damage caused by the search, other damages and court costs.

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