Military and Police

Governor and Attorney General Candidates with Compassion Party Arrested for Cannabis Cultivation

Compassion Party candidates for the Rhode Island offices of governor and attorney general have been arrested by law enforcement officers for growing and distributing pounds of cannabis. The pro-pot duo, Anne Armstrong, 58, and Alan Gordon, 48, were nabbed with 48 pounds of the green stuff, according to Rhode Island’s NCEN News. Armstrong is seeking to be Rhode Island’s governor while Gordon is aiming for the state’s attorney general post.

Armstrong and Gordon came the focus of attention of the Rhode Island State Police after a tipster in proximity to the home Armstrong and Gordon share alerted law enforcement authorities to the “smell of marijuana” wafting the air. Most states have what is called the Plain Odor Doctrine which, essentially, perpetuates police interest in the source of cannabis. It does have a powerful odor to it. When I came across it in traffic stops, it reminded me of cat piss–strong, nasty, and pervasive. It was not uncommon to see a batch of air fresheners in cars where pot was smoked.

But, given the quantity of cannabis Armstrong and Gordon were cultivating, no can of Lysol was going to mask the pot odor. Accordingly, Rhode Island State police officers, in conjunction with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force comprised of one dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, conducted perfunctory surveillance by observing the comings and goings, flying drones overhead to record still-shots and video footage, after which obtaining a warrant was the order of business. Upon service of said warrant, here is what they located in the Armstrong/Gordon home in West Greenwich:

Some of the many tin pot pans Armstrong and Gordon used to process cannabis in their West Greenwich, RI home. (Credit: Rhode Island State Police)

The Rhode Island State Police/HIDTA press release announced the arrests of Armstrong and Gordon, stipulating the charges of: Possession of Marijuana in Excess of Five (5) kilograms; Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver; and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. The task force located a 15-year-old child among the pot-cultivating operation.

Ironically, in the past Gordon has been arrested on marijuana-related charges. He served jail time where, after a run-in with a very large inmate –“a 300-pound double-murderer”–and subsequent release from prison, was diagnosed with PTSD. Before the Rhode Island State Legislature, Gordon testified about his philosophies and theories pertaining to myriad positive effects to be gained from cannabis use. He also candidly offered the jail stint/melee from which he attributes his PTSD.

Sticking to his guns, however, this latest marijuana arrest of Gordon resulted in no plea given at his arraignment. As well, the $25,000 bail ordered by the court was not posted by Gordon or any associates. That means he is back in the position where he professed he acquired PTSD. From what I found on the Armstrong/Gordon arrests for marijuana violations, they both profess to grow weed not to sell but to give away. That may help explain why the $25,000 bond was not posted so they can be free pending trial.

Moreover, if neither Armstrong nor Gordon can afford to post bail, how’d they afford election commission fees? Drug Money? But they claim they are not selling weed, only giving it away. Church tithes? Perhaps. If their congregation supports it then it is likely they have no hesitation funding church leaders aspiring to political office so as to fight for across-the-board legalization of marijuana.

Gordon seems to be a relatively learned man. He also pokes the conspiracy hive. His political campaign video alludes to his political opponent, former Rhode Island U.S. attorney Peter Neronha, an Obama-era official, being an “illegal candidate” involved in four scandals and backed by “pill money.” Mr. Gordon’s campaign video was posted August 16, 2018. The YouTube video views when I reviewed it was tallied at 129. Interestingly, Gordon’s pot-producing partner, roommate, and Compassion Party political associate running for the Rhode Island gubernatorial seat, Anne Armstrong is the only commenter below Gordon’s campaign video. Ms. Armstrong wrote: “It’s funny [how] YouTube messes with the view counter. We’re watching you!” I wonder if the Rhode Island State Police surveillance team thought/said the same thing when they sat on a certain street in West Greenwich.

I drank black coffee this morning, so my senses are on super-high alert. But it didn’t take an extra jolt from caffeine to notice Mr. Gordon’s campaign vid was recorded in a forest of cannabis and spanned 4:20. He kept looking to his right as he spoke. Conscience bothering him or just, you know, waiting on the mail?

As a lawman, I am sure Rhode Island police investigators exercised due diligence and found the batch of videos, including Gordon standing in front of a wall of marijuana. Although he appears to have some intellect, it was smothered by producing and posting incriminating evidence for the public to see, including law enforcement officials building a case from odiferous air coincidentally close to where two Compassion Party political candidates for state offices resided with a 15-year-old child. Yes, a teen was in the pot-infested home at 99 Hudson Pond Road. State police also charged Armstrong and Gordon with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

Neither Armstrong nor Gordon produced a state-issued license to cultivate marijuana. That is because one does not exist. Both freely express that their intent to cultivate pot was not for sale but to “give away.”

Besides being Compassion Party aspiring politicians with at least one crystalline campaign platform, both Armstrong and Gordon are also marijuana ministers running a church called The Healing Church. The church website sates the following: “Misunderstanding about the true nature of the cannabis plant and its role in Jewish and Catholic practices throughout history have led to the mistaken inclusion of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act and the demonization of what Catholic mystics called ‘Mary’s Medicine’ under the sacrilegious name ‘m—-juana’.” Hence, the following video (posted yesterday to YouTube) depicts Armstrong and Gordon in theological garb, the focal point of which is Mother Mary, while they state their case/cause tribute by playing the shofar (ceremonial horn):

I see what they did there: correlating Mother Mary with mari-juana. It may be the extra dose of caffeine, though. From that video, it is evident that Armstrong is the lead speaker and pontificator and Gordon appears to be the subordinate (head-bobber) mimicking his protégé. Nevertheless, both are squarely on the same pot page.

Will there justice proceedings make or break them? Who knows. Will these two pot proponents eventually see enough numbers to catapult them to elected office? If a poll cited by the local news stations carries any weight, one-percent is not gonna do much for either candidate.

Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana only, and it asks a hefty fee for the requisite state license to grow cannabis indoors only (it excludes outdoor cultivation). I guess we just discovered their motivation for going (growing) their own way, despite state statutes prohibiting otherwise.

Armstrong and Gordon feel their arrests are politically motivated. However, Michael S. McCabe, special assistant attorney general, rebutted that assertion, saying both were “growing outdoors and in plain sight.” Mr. McCabe’s clarification is why police officers would react, using the Plain Sight Doctrine whereby an articulable illegal substance is in public view. The Rhode Island cops posted a photograph taken from street on the public-view side of the only partially-obscured fenced property at 99 Hudson Pond Road.

Plain view of the cannabis abundance from the public side of the street at 99 Hudson Pond Road where Armstrong and Gordon reside. (Credit: Rhode Island State Police)

All due respect, somehow the local coppers (especially day-shift) missed all that.

I found scant elaboration on the Rhode Island Compassion Party account (although I can logically guess their platform/premise) and was directed to The Healing Church site and its message/mission: “The Healing Church shares prayers, fellowship, and the healing medicine described in Exodus 30:23 to those in need of physical and/or spiritual healing.”

I wonder: If Armstrong and Gordon are Christian-sect clergy of sorts and they openly profess to use marijuana for religious services/purposes, will we see a challenge in court whereby they orchestrate a separation of church/state argument? Will that fly? Then again, if they are running for elected office while also offering “religious services,” they’d have to separate one from the other, choose either the state gig or church congregation. Such a quandary, eh?

They both seem genuinely peace-loving and desirous of harmony among folks. A gander of Ms. Armstrong’s Twitter account indicates her political candidacy as well as her dedication to MAGA platforms:

(Credit: Anne Armstrong/Twitter)

As it is in Rhode Island, medical marijuana is legal here in Florida, governed under the auspices of the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (initially dubbed the Office of Compassionate Use). In the event Armstrong and Gordon somehow evade prison sentences, perhaps their Compassion Party can find a sunny home with the Office of Compassionate Use, offering their knowledge base as subject matter experts. After all, Florida is still wrangling with the baby steps of legalizing marijuana for medicinal applications.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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