SCITUATE -- The state police used aerial surveillance and employed its SWAT team on Thursday to corral a 65-year-old man who they believed was a major drug dealer. Instead, they learned after the fact that the suspect was licensed through the Rhode Island Health Department to grow marijuana to cope with his medical problems.
Still, Louis Magiera, of 89 Nipmuc Trail, Scituate, was charged with two felony marijuana counts for growing eight more marijuana plants than he is allowed to grow in the state program. Under the rules of the program, a patient is allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for his own use. The state police said they discovered 20 plants on his sprawling property.
State Police Capt. David Neill said the show of force could have been avoided had state law allowed the police to get information from the Health Department on whether Magiera was a patient or caregiver in the medical marijuana program.
"If we knew he was a patient and had a right to grow, we would have handled it differently," he said.