update: my boss keeps marijuana plants in the office

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose boss was keeping marijuana plants in the office? Here’s the update.

I want to thank you for your advice and support. I’ve posted some context and details in the comment section of the original post, but I thought you all deserved an update.

My boss and I had a sit-down conversation when she came into work just after the post was published. I explained in no uncertain terms how unsettled I was by having an illegal plant in my office and how it scared me to think that either of us could get in trouble if the wrong person happened to notice at the wrong time. As many commenters predicted, she brushed me off again. There were a variety of excuses from “They need a warrant” to “We’re technically not within city limits” to “It’s not for distribution,” but one thing became clear. Cannabis is going to be grown in the office.

Now, one moment of joy I mentioned in a comment is that her husband’s cats tore up her plants. Thank you for your brave actions, S&S. You are the greatest cats in the world (They’re fine. Either didn’t have much or just needed a rest day, I guess). Unfortunately this was counter-balanced by my boss producing a small tin, which she proudly proclaimed was full of marijuana seeds. Even as I tried to discourage her, she planted a few into her hydroponics garden and I was left dumbfounded while she put the tin away and told me where it and other supplies were so I could plant some myself when I was done with my other work, and how to work the hydroponics garden. Needless to say, I am not doing that. Knowing is bad enough, getting involved is near suicidal.

As several people advised, I am looking for other work in addition to picking up the pace of my schooling so I can get to a better job soon. I’m contemplating talking to my dad’s lawyer, who’s a cool guy and who I know won’t judge. I’ve also talked with my family since then to update them on the situation. Some of the best news is that my mom’s job is moving her to full-time soon, so we won’t be so dependent on my income. I don’t think I realized until now how not-okay my situation is. I’ll be stuck here a while yet, but so long as I can discreetly pluck most of the seeds out of the planter and keep my head down, I should be able to last. It’s not great right now, but we’re getting there.

{ 235 comments… read them below }

    1. Darsynia*

      Yes, I’d be mentioning the term ‘constructive possession.’ That’s something you can charge someone who is not in active possession but who is close enough to the illegal substance that it can be argued they have involvement. OP, it being grown in your office as a fixture that you know about actively might be argued as qualifying– and having a boss who blows this off is worrisome enough. Do you trust your boss not to say they’re your plants?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        From google, in Texas “Constructive possession occurs when law enforcement finds drugs in your general area, but not on you.”

        From another website,
        “In order to establish constructive possession in Texas, a prosecutor must be able to prove:

        The defendant had actual knowledge the illegal drugs were present; and
        The defendant exercised dominion and control over the controlled substance.

        It does not technically matter who “owns” the drugs in question. If you are deemed to have had knowledge and control over the banned substance, you could be arrested and charged with constructive possession.””

        I’d be very concerned that watering and planting seeds counts as control.

          1. Darsynia*

            My concern with this is that if anyone sees that action being performed, it looks identical to fertilizing and watering, and takes OP from being completely hands-off to messing with them in a way that will make answering questions truthfully uncomfortable. If the worst happens and they’re questioned by the police, the answer to ‘did you water the plants?’ being ‘I poured vinegar on them’ will not look great. It’s a step towards ‘control,’ in the eyes of the authorities, I bet.

          2. tamarack etc.*

            That was my thought. The hydroponic garden knowledge can work both ways. Those plants don’t *have* to survive their infancy. The OP could add a few sprouting seeds, just so that there are seedlings.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          My brother got in some serious legal trouble in college because his roommate, completely unbeknownst to Bro, was keeping weapons and drugs in their shared dorm room. When Roommate got himself arrested for grand theft auto, the police searched their room and dragged my brother in too. It was expensive, depressing, and threw his life completely off-track (withdrew from college, etc). If I knew I was living or working in a place where my roommates/coworkers were engaging in illegal activities, I would run to a lawyer as fast as my feet could carry me.

        2. Mongrel*

          “I’d be very concerned that watering and planting seeds counts as control.”

          I’d be worried that just knowing that they’re there would be enough.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And sadly you can tell him you tried talking to the boss – and she an out of touch, flower child idiot, who isn’t going to change or acknowledge the risks she’s forcing everyone else to shoulder because her cart acted like cats and did damage to a plant.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Yes. Frankly, this may be one of those situations where getting out is more important than having a new job lined up when you do it.

  1. The Lexus Lawyer*

    I’m a lawyer.

    Good luck in your job search. That’s probably the best way to resolve this. Get a new job and move on.

    1. The Prius Lawyer*

      I’m also a lawyer. I agree – the new job is the best route for you to lake. Best of luck in the job hunt!

  2. INeedANap*

    Asking you to plant illegal flora as part of your job duties is so colossally stupid. If you were a different person you could call the police immediately. Frankly your boss’s laissez-faire attitude to this would make me suspicious of the rest of her business, namely the finances. I hope you get out of there soon OP!

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Why? The whole reason she hasn’t quit is because she needs this job to support her family. You think she’ll still be employed there if she calls the police on her boss???

        Also, calling the police over something that’s ultimately not violent and not actively harming anyone is absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps my race and my knowledge of the way police operate are factoring into this, but the police should not be called over a few weed plants dear god. You really think an armed response to that is the best course of action? Really??

        1. Observer*

          No, not over a few weed plants. But over her actively and knowingly putting the OP (and her father) at risk.

          I wouldn’t do it, because the risk to the OP at the moment is too high. But this woman is actively trying to make the OP complicit in something that could land her in jail!

          Dear god indeed!

          1. Eyes Kiwami*

            I can definitely see OP calling the cops, they come to search, and then if OP is a POC, she also gets arrested… or the boss can easily say she was part of it.

            Not to mention anyone else at the office caught in the crossfire!

            1. Observer*

              Like I said, I agree that this is probably not something the OP should do. But the reason is what you describe – this could really hurt the OP. They owe zero concern to the boss.

        2. INeedANap*

          I concur with you that calling the police over this would be ridiculous. However, she could technically do it, which is why the boss is being incredibly irresponsible. Trusting an employee to cover for your illegal activity (even if said activity has no moral or logical reason to be illegal) puts the employee in a terrible position.

        3. tamarack etc.*

          I agree that calling the police over weed plants is extreme. I’d first exhaust all options (including talking to a lawyer and ripping out seedlings) that allowed me to cover my behind.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        The OP needs the job, and that would ensure there would be no job. Finding a new job first, and *then* calling the cops (if the OP wished), is the better option.

      3. tillytambo*

        Why do you think the cops would be in any way helpful in this situation? Would it just be to spite the boss for her stupidity, or is it just that in principle you believe we need one more person in the system for simple possession?

        1. Kel*

          Yeah, I agree; the answer here isn’t police, since that’s not actually going to help OP at all. They need a new job and to get out of there, and be rid of the entire situation.

        2. Wintermute*

          Only a lawyer can tell you what is the best idea, but it is very possible that the best way to avoid being accused of possession with intent is to be the complaining witness. Typically prosecutors in most jurisdictions don’t put a high priority on prosecuting the person that called police unless it’s a violent crime that they can’t excuse.

      4. Anonomite*

        How about never call the cops for something that is not physically harming anyone. Cops make things worse.

        1. All the Words*

          And do we really need another member of our society financially ruined or jailed for growing a plant? Aren’t these the exact people various jurisdictions are releasing from overcrowded jails?

          LW, get away a.s.a.p. but please don’t call the cops.

          1. tangerineRose*

            But the boss is putting the LW in a terrible situation and will probably put other employees in the same terrible situation. Maybe the boss needs a wake up call.

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            This isn’t about Boss innocently growing marijuana at home in a way that doesn’t affect anyone else. This is about Boss abusing her power over employees to have them break the law on her behalf. I agree weed should be legal… but since it’s illegal in LW’s jurisdiction, Boss is putting LW at huge risk. That is wrong. It’s unethical, immoral, and abusive.

            I don’t think calling the police is a good move in this instance, but let’s not act like Boss is an angel here.

      5. Selina Luna*

        Even though she’s the one making the call, in some jurisdictions, she could be brought up on charges as well if she calls the police. I think her policy of applying for new jobs is the right one, though she should still talk to a lawyer.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – there is a thing called “Open Search” which as relatives in law enforcement have explained means if they can openly see it – they don’t need a warrant for you to get in trouble for it.

        Boss sounds like the sort of flower child who won’t change, and will probably let others take the fall for her. Please get out of there as soon as your mom is able to go full time, that’s probably the safest scenario left.

        1. donut-eater*

          Yes. I’m a cop and there are quite a few exceptions to the 4th amendment that many people are not aware of.

          If the police enter that business for a lawful purpose and the contraband is in plain view, they can investigate it without a warrant. A great majority of the contraband I’ve discovered throughout my career has been without a warrant and has been incidental to something else that was going on.

          Of course the accused would then have a right to have a lawyer argue before a judge that the discovery was still protected under the 4th amendment based on the specifics of the situation.

          But why place yourself in that situation? OP, I echo what others say in that I hope you can remove yourself from this situation soon and move on. Good luck.

        2. Wintermute*

          Not just open search but some police departments use infrared scans to look for hydroponics systems. There’s been some high court cases about whether that’s constructively a search but fact of the matter is they take active steps to identify hydroponic systems using a number of tactics that don’t legally require a warrant (using government water usage/sewer usage records, heat sensors, etc)

    1. DJ Abbott*

      Speaking of finances, I hope you’ve never signed any documents there. Don’t sign any while you work there. I once worked for someone who was a bit shady and several friends warned me not to sign any documents or take responsibility for finances in any way.

  3. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Wow. That’s frankly pretty callous and rude of her to be so dismissive of your concerns.

    Wishing you success with your job search and a future working with people who don’t casually put you at risk.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      I know this type, I’ve met several people like this. They think they’re so cool and hip and have everything all figured out, and very smug about it. In fact, they’re clueless and very selfish and completely unaware of other people.

  4. Older millennial*

    If it’s all so casual and no big deal, why can’t your boss grow the plants in her own home?

    I hope you’ll be out of that situation rather sooner than later, LW!

    1. Elenna*

      Because the cats might get into them, and obviously the effort it would take for Boss to create a cat-free zone is much more important than not making LW, who is already in a precarious position, party to an illegal act… *eyeroll*

      LW, hope you get a new job soon!

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Because idiot boss is married to a cat owner whose cats did prior damage to her precious plants.

      And it’s easier for her to make her employees risk drug charges than to put in the effort it would require to make the room in the house where her gardening happens cat free.

      And she’s a callous idiot flower child who doesn’t care about consequences that aren’t real to her whose knowledge of the law seems to be based on TV shows instead of reality.

    3. Observer*

      If it’s all so casual and no big deal, why can’t your boss grow the plants in her own home?

      Because she’s too lazy and irresponsible to keep the cats out of the plants.

  5. FrivYeti*


    I have been very fortunate in my life not to be trapped in a situation like this, which is good because if I told my boss that I was deeply concerned about becoming involved in illegal activity and their response was to try to get me *more* involved, I would quit on the spot, no safety net, and just hope to catch something on the way down.

    At a certain point, it almost feels like boss was deliberately trying to make their worker more enmeshed in the activity so that they’d be afraid to report it.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Ding Ding Ding.

      On the original thread it was opined by more than one person that the Boss’ plan if she were caught was to blame it all on OP. Having her plant the seeds and work the hydroponics would have made that easier. Guess who’s fingerprints would be on the tin and the controls?

      I so hope the OP gets a new job SOON.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        If I were OP I’d categorically refuse to do anything with those plants.

        Legitimately curious — if OP were to refuse and get fired over it, could that be reported as a wrongful termination (refusing to participate in illegal activity)? If it could and OP reported it, would there be blow back on OP (along the lines of “you didn’t report it until after you were fired”)? I recognize that OP needs the income at the moment, I’m just curious from a process stand point.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          If OP is trying to avoid all contact with the police she should not report it even after fired. Also boss likely would just go I fired OP for having these plants here….

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Yes it is deeply, deeply skeevy that boss thought the nervous employee who doesn’t want to be involved in illegal activity should do a bit of planting herself. That’s a more determined bulldozering of OP, than just being a bit of an optimistic thinker! I got hives reading this.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        It is possible she’s so zoned out and unaware of what’s around her that she hasn’t put this together. But scary either way!

    3. Observer*

      At a certain point, it almost feels like boss was deliberately trying to make their worker more enmeshed in the activity so that they’d be afraid to report it.

      I don’t think it’s “almost”.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I read that part of the update and it made me think that boss is not quite as innocent as she pretends to be and was looking for ways to spread the blame when she eventually gets busted. And several comments on the original thread made me think this is an area that very punitively punishes cannabis possession and growth.

  6. Zoe*

    It would be terrible if salt got into a hydroponic system where it could hurt plants!
    Best of luck finding a new job OP!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’ve seen a few ideas along this vein – my only fear is if boss found out that OP sabotaged the system she’d file charges for destruction of property. These plants seem to be what her world revolves around – don’t mess with the plants or the system (even though yes I mused about Kudzu below).

      Plus – messing with the system would put your fingerprints on the equipment. You want your prints as far away from the illegal prints as possible given that this is your work and your prints are going to be present elsewhere.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I would pay to see that complaint.

        “LW destroyed my property!”
        “What was the nature of the property, ma’am?”
        “Plants! Very valuable plants!”
        “What kind of plants, exactly?”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          She could be sneaky and just claim damage to the hydroponic system. And those systems aren’t cheap.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            I’ve got a pretty good idea where a rural Texas cop’s mind is going to go when someone says “hydroponics,” and it’s not tomatoes.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Fair enough – I’ve never been to Texas. Where I live if you mentioned a hydroponics set up people would be likely to ask how many bee hives your set up supports and if you sell honey.

    2. Observer*

      The only thing that I think the OP could maybe safely do is to somehow “accidentally” disconnect the system from the water source or the electricity.

  7. Tech writer by day*

    It has been a month since the original letter was published. I don’t see recognition of the high urgency here. LW, the territory you’re in is: do the bare minimum to not get fired and keep your family alive, and spend every other waking moment getting out before you land in jail.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      This boss is so utterly horrible I have to consider her intent malicious. I am so glad LW has an attorney who will offer her advice and I hope she gets out so so soon.

    2. Kella*

      This comment seems unfair. OP has clearly stated that she’s doing all the things necessary to leave for another job. We’re supposed to take letter writer’s at their word, so it seems unfair to imply that she’s not trying hard enough to find another job, based on the limited info of this update.

    3. jpchatham*

      I agree with your suggestion to get out ASAP, but there are so many reasons this update might not have been posted sooner. Sure, it’s possible that the LW might not recognize the urgency, but it’s also quite possible that the LW has finally reached a point in their job search where they had enough spare time to send Alison an update, or maybe they sent the update a while ago and Alison held onto it until now to fit in with her posting schedule. The LW isn’t in a great situation here, but I’d hate for them to feel like they’re not showing proper recognition of the urgency just because their update didn’t show up to us right away.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Oh I’m sure.
        Or just saw a fun plant to climb and play on.
        Either way, the kitties lost and I’m glad they survived the experience with no harm done seemingly.

    1. LNZ*

      If they just ate the raw flower (the part ppl smoke) they didn’t get stoned. At most, they probably had an upset stomach. Can’t remember if it’s the THC itself or another chemical but weed has to be heated to a certain temp to activate. You could eat a whole flower bud and not get high.

      1. Sva*

        The cats probably just tore up the plants and munched on some leaves, cats eat grasses and leaves but not really other plant bits. That’s possibly not very good for them but it’s not going to get them stoned.

    2. fluffy*

      My understanding is that cannabis is quite toxic to cats, so I really hope the cats didn’t eat any of it.

  8. irene adler*

    I’m not familiar with hydroponics gardens. So maybe this can’t happen. But wouldn’t it be interesting if some kind of invasive plant made its way to it, resulting in something very difficult to get rid of?

      1. Kel*

        Maybe, but any ‘invasive’ species would have to have been introduced by someone with access to the garden, which seems to be OP and boss.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – realized as soon as I posted what a Really, Really Bad Idea messing with the plants would be.

  9. IndustriousLabRat*

    How totally bizarre- not only super disrespectful to LW, having to work with illegal greenery, but what, exactly, is Boss trying to accomplish by way of growing these plants in an office? Because aside from the legal matters, that’s… not how Cannabis plants work.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I’m not the commenter you responded to but it’s disrespectful to make the LW have to choose between her livelihood and being an unwilling party to something illegal.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I’m still not really clear how respect enters into it.
          Inconsiderate, irresponsible, shitty, definitely, but I don’t see the respect part of it.

          1. different seudonym*

            The clear implication of the boss’s actions is that the LW is either stupid for being concerned about illegality, or actually unworthy of anyone’s care and protection.


          2. Irish Teacher*

            I think she is definitely disrespecting the LW’s boundaries. The LW pretty much said she wasn’t comfortable being around cannabis plants and the boss responded by basically asking her to help with the growing of them. I also think the boss is putting the LW at genuine risk here, greater risk than the boss herself is at and that that shows a lack of respect and consideration for the LW’s future.

          3. Hibiscus*

            It’s disrespectful to others when they explain your privilege does not extend to them and you put them in harm’s way. You are essentially conveying that they are not worthy of care and are invalidating their existence.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        It’s disrespectful because the boss is not respecting the fact that OP does not want to be involved with the marijuana plants in any way when she uses her authority as a boss to say “when you finish [work tasks], you should start cultivating marijuana plants for me.”

    1. Kel*

      not to go off the rails here, but that is exactly how cannabis plants work. in the office, boss can likely control light, temp etc and is able to grow them hydroponically.

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Unless Boss is going to at some point be able to provide consistent, regular, 12 hour dark – blacked out window level dark- she’s not only being horrible to LW, but also doing so with no real purpose to having those plants in the first place, as nothing productive will come of them, unless she’s just keeping them as ornamentals. Which makes it all the more infuriating. Like, at that point, what’s wrong with just keeping an office spider plant? It almost seems like Boss is gleefully trying to be “edgy”, while being both ignorant and just a garden-variety jerk.

          1. IndustriousLabRat*

            Yes. Yes, I have. That being said… Boss seeming to be a bit on the unsophisticated side, unable to even figure out how to keep cats away from her plants and instead choosing the office as the logical solution… I’m not holding my breath that she’s discovered the Rudis.

  10. been there, seen a lot*

    I worked for a guy who used his business to cover proceeds from selling weed (no idea if he grew onsite, I never saw anything).
    The fun part happened when he had a fight with his girlfriend, who then called the cops on him while he was away at a trade show. She let them in. He got busted. Bye bye business.

    1. Bubbletea*

      I used to work for someone who made and sold edibles. I got my job because the incumbent before me quit in a rage after the boss brought in a batch of pot brownies, stashed them in the kitchen, and predecessor ate an UNCOMFORTABLE AMOUNT. She apparently had a really bad trip and quit the minute she sobered up, effective immediately*.

      Lucky enough I’m not into weed OR gluten, so I was safe.

    2. MissElizaTudor*

      Wow, that’s terrible. It sucks that he was in a relationship with such an awful person. I assume he got out of that bad relationship? Hopefully her behavior only cost him monetarily.

      1. been there, seen a lot*

        I think he managed to regroup and restart the business eventually, sans employees. Same dude had an accessory dwelling out back (we worked in the basement of the main house) that he rented to another employee. This employee and her husband had heroin problems and the husband ODed and died one weekend. The employee (and her kid) moved in with family so she could get help. I lost track of the madness after that.

    3. TrixM*

      So so many people are busted for illegal activities because a disgruntled (ex) partner (business or otherwise), friend or business associate called the cops on them. All the way from tax evasion to drugs.

      It really isn’t in this boss’s interest to be so disrespectful to her employee. I’m fully in favour of legalising pot, have even grown it myself, but even I’d be tempted to call an anonymous tipline after I exited – after giving the plants a few more weeks to get to flowering stage – purely for her attitude.

      As well as the legal concerns everyone points out, though, there’s also an air pollution issue. Once the plants get to a decent size and especially when they start flowering, they PONG. I get very mild asthma at times, and I noticed that when I grew my plants indoors, it got worse. Some varieties are more pungent than others, but they all smell. It’s the kind of smell that gets into your clothes and hair – it’s not gross per se, but it’s distinctive – if the place is not very well-ventilated.

      I’d also be concerned about that too, if I were the OP. Especially if her family member is on parole and subject to random police checks.

  11. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    This is the time to contaminate that soil, LW. I know a lot of people in the original were suggesting weedkillers or vinegar to kill the plants, but you might need to go a bit more through in making the soil in the planter unable to support life. A canister of salt might need to find it’s way into things…

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Ah, I didn’t know that. I admit gardens are not one of my areas of expertise.

        I feel like there are a lot of water-soluble solutions that would work in that case, though.

  12. GoLightly*

    Ugh, I’m sorry, OP. Some people seem to think that because cannabis is becoming legalized in more and more places, everyone should just be 100% cool with it all the time. But there are plenty of reasons that someone wouldn’t be cool working in a room full of pot plants even if it WAS legal where you are. I would be tempted to sabotage the plants somehow, but that might get you into more trouble than it’s worth. I hope you can find a new job soon!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      The smell alone would have me brushing up my CV. Just one joint in a crowd, or nearby back garden has me gagging.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        They don’t smell the same growing as dried, but still not something I want to work near 8 hours a day. And I use CBD medically. (Legal in my state)

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I’ve been in pot farms with police officers as a reporter and they smell pretty bad; most of them were actually busted on the basis of the smell. Hoping the LWs office is as small scale as it sounds.

        2. TrixM*

          They smell very very strong when they’re flowering. Stronger than dried unless you’re literally putting your nose in a jar of dried bud. They can smell pretty strong even before flowering.

          I’ve grown plants, and after the first time, I will not grow them indoors (unless I had a commercial-grade air extraction system).

      2. Hound Dog (Nothing But)*

        Ugh, agreed. The scent is a migraine trigger for me, whether plant or smoke, and I can tell when someone on the other side of the office partook over the weekend. I hope the LW can get out quick.

    2. LNZ*

      It’s 100% legal in my country (and i personally am a big old stoner) but this still would be massively not ok. It’s just plain rude.

  13. Anomie*

    I have a black thumb. Any plant I tend to dies immediately. You have a strange situation on your hands OP.

  14. Samwise*

    I know you need the money, but:

    1. Talk to the lawyer
    2. Quit now. If you’re in jail you will not be earning any income. If you’re in jail you will not be going to school. If you’re in jail, you may be kicked OUT of school if you’re currently enrolled and you may make it harder to be admitted TO school if you aren’t in school now.

    Get out get out get out

    1. Ellis Bell*

      General question from ignorant European: Would OP be able to claim unemployment if they quit due to illegal activity? (Obviously I don’t know if that would support her well enough).

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Not a good plan. If you report quitting due to being asked to plant and care for drugs, there’s a good chance they’ll kick that information over to law enforcement to look for said drugs. Which puts you back near square 1, with an angry boss potentially saying it’s OPs drugs not hers etc and the police getting involved with OP.

        If OP can just quit and blame family matters OP can still scrape a reference off this boss as well as avoid police…

        1. Anonomite*

          It would be hard to make that work if she quit, and the drugs were still there, and the boss knew about them.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        Yes, but the problem is that unemployment is only likely to cover a tiny portion of their income. So it doesn’t really do any good to quit due to illegal activity unless you can afford to quit over illegal activity in the first place.

      3. Hound Dog (Nothing But)*

        Ordinarily yes, but since this is in Texas, there’s reasonable chance this could backfire. Texas’ governor is a real piece of work and it reflects in the state laws and law enforcement. Just knowledge of an illegal activity is enough to get arrested these days.

    2. Criminologist here*

      OP, please get out as soon as humanly possible!! This being Texas and your boss clearly demonstrating the effects of her brain injury (cf comments to original letter), it is WAY too risky.
      Get Out and write a horror movie script about a 20-something with an obtuse boss. Get Out, the Weed Sequel!

  15. Kel*

    To everyone telling OP how to damage the plants; if LW and Boss are the only two people with access to the garden, any tampering is going to be pretty obvious pretty quickly.

      1. Mailer Daemon Targaryen*

        Unfortunately, a lot of folks here seem to enjoy posting sabotage ideas and/or esprit d’escalier-level comebacks that would almost certainly make the LW no longer the wronged party rather than actual helpful advice when it comes to letters like this.

        Don’t get me wrong, I totally get the impulse to indulge in fantasy solutions, but the point of these comment sections is help and/or commiseration. If whatever you’re about to suggest doesn’t fall in one of those two categories, keep it to yourself.

    1. Princess Sparklepony*

      My idea would be to plant seeds of a plant that looks a bit like weed but isn’t. Or sub in some tomato seeds. When you get tomatoes you can be astounded and ask boss if she’s sure she planted the right seeds because you didn’t plant anything…. So the system would be working, there would be plants growing, just the wrong plants.

      1. ella*

        OP should quit before doing something like this. Her boss is using the pot for a legitimate medical purpose. I don’t see how “and then I made sure that she had no recourse to her chronic pain” improves the situation for anybody.

    2. ella*

      Also, I get why antipathy toward the boss is high, but honestly, “I destroyed the medication that my boss uses to manage her chronic pain” doesn’t make the situation better for anybody.

  16. Lady_Lessa*

    Because the plants are grown in water, it might make more sense to subtly change the water to make it more basic or more acidic to damage the plants. Lye cleaner or acidic drain cleaner would be easily sources and strong enough not to take much.

  17. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    Echoing everyone who says talk to that lawyer right now – even if he tells you that you’re doing everything you can short of quitting on the spot you’ll know where you stand and what you should do (again, even if what you should do is “exactly what you’re doing now, nothing else can be done”).

  18. Rivakonneva*

    What about adding a teaspoon or so of Clorox bleach? Is there a way for the OP to do so without touching any of the controls?

  19. idwtpaun*

    I understand OP’s concerns entirely, but I’m also perplexed by the intensity of some of the language used. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but the mention of the lawyer acquaintance “who’s a cool guy and who I know won’t judge” – why on earth would anyone judge you for your boss’s actions? There’s nothing to judge!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      In the original letter, the OP mentioned

      I live in Texas where cannabis, recreational or medical, is enough to get you sent to jail. It also doesn’t help that we’re in a conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing.

      So I assume that there are some local lawyers who would judge the OP for not immediately reporting marijuana plants to the authorities and for continuing to work in the office with her boss and the plants.

      1. idwtpaun*

        To me, it’s pretty bad that they have to live in that kind fear. Poor OP. But it also makes the boss’s behaviour much more egregious, it’s so callous to put another person at risk like that.

        1. Observer*

          That’s just it. If this were NY, I would be rolling my eyes, but not that big of a deal. In Texas? Come on!

    2. GoLightly*

      OP could mean that the lawyer wouldn’t judge her for continuing to work there, knowing she needs the work. That was my take on it.

      1. idwtpaun*

        I assumed that too, but I was just taken aback by the idea that anyone would pass judgment on them for not throwing away their employment on the spot. It’s scary that OP lives in a place where that’s something they have to worry about!

    3. DJ Abbott*

      I grew up in a culture like OPs. It’s very judgy. They judge everything, and comment and criticize, and make people feel like crap. Something that’s actually illegal or wrong brings maximum judgment whether it’s deserved or not. :(

  20. SJ (they/them)*

    LW, I’m incredibly sorry you’re in this situation.

    I would echo the comments of some other commenters that this is really an emergency situation. Are there any emergency measures you can look into that you haven’t considered because maybe you’re thinking the situation isn’t “bad enough” in some way?

    If your boss came to you tomorrow morning and said, this afternoon at work I am going to need you to help me hide a body — obviously you would need to walk out and never come back. So, what next? Can you get signed on with a temp agency today, like make a phone call right now?Can you go to the food bank for some staple foods? Are there friends or family you would rely on “in an emergency” that you aren’t yet because it doesn’t seem like an emergency yet?

    It really, really is one. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I will be wishing you all good things, please be well.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      ETA I forgot about the lawyer, definitely talk to the lawyer right now, today. Or another one if your dad’s isn’t available, look up “legal aid [your state]” as a starting point. Good luck.

  21. AmericannWoman*

    Wow. I can see the anti-cannabis propaganda has really sunk in with this crowd. Not saying that the OP has to agree or like it (and I agree that they should definitely find a new job if they aren’t okay with it), but it is nowhere near “suicidal” to work near a few plants and given the way legalization is going in this country, I would argue that the boss is more right about the risk here than the commentariat. I used to be the perfect D.A.R.E. graduate too, but honestly the apocalyptic language in the post and comments seems over-the-top for what sounds like a minimal number of plants. Yes, plants.

    If I was being flippant I would have just said, “sounds like the OP should consume some cannabis,” but they sound genuinely concerned, so I agree on the basic actions here: don’t plant any seeds, ignore the plants, and start looking for a new job, but please do not call the cops and calm the “cannabis is so, so, bad and illegal vibe.” It is a plant, it is ancient and modern medicine, and it also has a recreational use. If you don’t want to partake, don’t. If somehow the police dealing with actual dangerous crime decide to investigate a few plants for personal use (happening less and less since they are predicting legalization) that they would tie the OP to it. Not impossible of course, but I was a bit shocked at the pearl-clutching happening here. Looking for a new job is stressful enough without other people piling on the worry that you’re involved in some cartel-level drug trafficking (not even close).

    I assume this will be an unpopular opinion, but I just wanted to provide a different perspective from someone who has been adjacent to the cannabis industry in both legal and not-yet-legal states. (Also, hate to say it, but if the boss is white and somewhat well-off the worry reduces to almost nil.)

      1. AnericannWoman*

        Same to you! I assure you it was not disingenuous or uninformed, if anything I was concerned the language was treating cannabis on par with much more dangerous and that the worry being piled on was unnecessary. Even in Texas, this is dropping on the priority list for police and if it is in the boss’ office I don’t see why it would become the OP’s problem. If they had said, “several people in town have been arrested recently here for this” that’s one thing, but the language used just seemed to be the same old scary language people have been using to make cannabis “evil” and “dangerous” for years. I may have gone off-topic a bit, but my main complaint was about the tone, and, if anything to dispel some of the ignorant assumptions.

        1. Wannessa*

          Texas is a pretty big state, and OP literally said that they live in a “conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing.” I’m not sure if you need the exact wording of “several people have been arrested recently for this” to believe that? Presumably OP is more aware of the general attitudes and risk of cannabis in the place where they live than you are?

          It seems clear, IMO, that *OP* is very concerned about this. I think the tone of commenters is reflecting the fact that OP is uncomfortable here. That’s a reason to quit right now even if the boss were just growing roses in the office – you don’t need to keep working somewhere that you feel is endangering you, and it really doesn’t matter if other people agree with that risk assessment. Concern over the potential legal ramifications is a reason to contact a lawyer and find out what might happen to you. The suggestions to sabotage the plants and other dramatic reactions are hyperbole that pops up on most letters where there’s a degree of interpersonal conflict. None of this seems more over-the-top to me than any other letter where a boss is abusing their power dynamic to do weird crap that makes their employees uncomfortable.

          It sounds like it touched a nerve with you personally.

    1. Catalin*

      I think the main concern in this case is that she’s in Texas or some state where weed is super, duper, life-changingly illegal. I doubt many people here would morally object to cannibis, we’re just trying to not let sh*tty laws ruin her life or her paroled-father’s life.

      1. Loredena*

        This. I’m not opposed to cannabis. But I agreed with a sibling coming down on my nibbling, pointing out that it being illegal where they live was a good way to ruin his life.

        Given the OP is in TX which is far from cannabis friendly, the OP is right to worry!

      2. LNZ*

        right like are we forgetting the well document way having any kind of arrest record let a lone a felony can ruin a person’s life/job prospects? This is an emergency for them because they are putting themselves at risk and just say chill out dude makes the commenter sound like ops boss.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      It’s not about whether or not we’re personally okay with pot. I think it’s stupid that it’s still illegal in so many places. But you and me being cool with it doesn’t change the fact that it is currently illegal where OP is, and all it would take is one cop who came to the wrong address by mistake to see the plants and blame OP for them.

      In a conservative area, an arrest on drug charges can ruin a whole lot of things and the commenters here are interested in sparing OP from that if possible.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      You can be “cool” about drugs all you want. OP isn’t in a situation to be. From the original post linked in the update,

      “I live in Texas where cannabis, recreational or medical, is enough to get you sent to jail. It also doesn’t help that we’re in a conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing.”

      and quote 2
      “My dad, who lives with us, is also on parole for a felony crime, and I’m worried about the possibility of getting in trouble with the law and how it will affect his case.”

      and quote 3
      “I’m the only one in my family of four who has a full-time job. In short, this job is paying my family’s bills.”

      Go preach about the joy of getting high to someone whose not supporting their entire family and at real risk of going to jail.

      1. AnericannWoman*

        This isn’t about being “cool” with and I actually preached the opposite of that. My comment was about tone, which clearly you did not get as I am seeing the same old prejudiced, over-the-top language and fear in these responses. I said the OP should get a new job and I didn’t say the boss wouldn’t get in trouble, I’m just be hard-pressed to how this would be tied back to the OP-even in TX when it’s not their business or property. Is there a mandatory tattle law in that state I’m not aware of? This seems to fall under “my boss does something I disagree with and is illegal here, I should get a new job.” Not, “I need to immediate talk to a lawyer, sabotage their plants, and stress that my family is in danger.” I just don’t see how that’s helpful. Again, just a different, less-worst-case-scenario opinion.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          You completely ignore my points. You just restate your initial comment.

          And for anyone sincerely wondering, cardigarden already pointed it out below. “Per Google, anything over 4oz in Texas is a FELONY charge, a minimum of 180 days in jail, and ~$10,000 in fines” and Darsynia in another brought up the constructive possession. Also from google “In order to establish constructive possession in Texas, a prosecutor must be able to prove: The defendant had actual knowledge the illegal drugs were present; and The defendant exercised dominion and control over the controlled substance. It does not technically matter who “owns” the drugs in question. If you are deemed to have had knowledge and control over the banned substance, you could be arrested and charged with constructive possession.”” So yes. OP is in a very precarious situation.

        2. Darsynia*

          Just stop, my goodness. I cannot believe you’d want to be in a situation where you could risk your family members’ life situations and your own legal jeopardy if someone came into your place of business and decided to report the illegal activity there.

          You’re hung up on this because it’s pot. That’s it. Think of it as something else and grow (see what I did there?) some perspective.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      In the original letter, the OP open with

      I live in Texas where cannabis, recreational or medical, is enough to get you sent to jail. It also doesn’t help that we’re in a conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing.

      so commenters are responding with that in mind. In most places in the US, police have better things to do and wouldn’t bother with the OP/her boss. If the OP had written “I’m in Colorado,” I’m sure the commenters would have been a chorus of “nothing to worry about! The Feds aren’t busting private offices over a few weed plants!” But in this particular location, the police do arrest people for weed possession/cultivation.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I will also say there is a huge difference between say a huge city’s law enforcement priorities and a small, rural, CONSERVATIVE community’s law enforcement priorities. The big city will ignore or deprioritize things that the small town will treat as Top Priority. Let believe OP that they know what the law enforcement is like in their home town.

        (And from having lived in some small conservative rural towns – the more conservative they are the more likely they are to be VERY puritanical when it comes to enforcement of drug laws.)

    5. Melanie Cavill*

      Personally, I find this whole thing quite puritanical too. However, the context that LW lives in an area where marijuana = jail is very crucial. That’s their concern.

    6. Ellen Ripley*

      I think the substance in general helps a lot of people and has value to society. However having these plants in the workplace in a state where they are illegal is a huge risk, a risk that OP did not consent to take. The consequences in the US for possession can literally be jail time, which is a life changing consequence. OP gains nothing from taking this risk. Again it’s not about whether the plant itself is good or bad, but about the strict laws that do still exist and are enforced in some US states.

    7. snausage*

      The problem is that the law doesn’t care how anyone feels about it, or whether or not it’s a good and well-written law based in solid research. OP is in a state where being around these plants can land her in bad, bad trouble. I find this deeply, deeply silly (as well as rooted in racism and classism), but that doesn’t change her circumstances. I don’t think there’s any pressing moral need for her to turn her boss in, but taking this seriously is appropriate to the OP’s situation. Assuming that it’ll shake out fine could be a foolish decision in this case, because the laws in her state are simply not friendly to this kind of activity, and being in the office may well put her on the hook for that, even though she has nothing to do with the plants. It sucks and it’s ridiculous, but here we are, and I think that people are taking a more serious tone based on the risk to which the OP is being exposed.

    8. nnn*

      To the contrary, I think most commenters here are pro-legalization and the blog owner herself has advocated for legalization in many posts. The concern is that the LW is in a state where it’s still highly illegal. People are worried about her legal risk, not any morality of weed.

      1. Anonomite*

        As AmericannWoman said, referring to something as “suicidal” is incredibly alarmist. Being cautious about her situation, mindful of her being in a precarious position regarding this job, any heightened awareness that doesn’t equal “suicidal” or “you’re going straight to jail” is appropriate.

        1. Danish*

          Nah I think OP meant “getting involved in planting marijuana with the boss would be suicidal” as in “a very bad idea because then I would definitely be on the hook for going to jail.” And she is correct.

          “doing x is suicidal” isn’t usually meant so literally, when I hear it. I’m more used to “sure Musk could do away with the twitter verification system and piss off all his advertisers, but doing so would be suicidal (in a business sense)”

        2. Avery*

          I don’t know. I’ve been suicidal–not actively, but the comment didn’t say that, and in fact specified “nearly” suicidal.
          Willingly getting involved in an illegal business where the illegal property in question is stored in your office and would be cared for by you, with somebody who is some combination of willfully blind to the risks and/or setting OP up to be the fall guy, when your father’s on parole, the rest of the family isn’t working, and you’re in the kind of conservative Texas town with law enforcement “eager” to “take people down” for exactly this kind of offense?
          Yeah, I’d say that taking that kind of huge risk that endangers your job, your criminal record, your father’s criminal record, and the livelihood of your family all in one fell swoop, would count as “nearly suicidal”.

          1. Anonomite*

            That is projecting onto the OP something that she never said. She has enough on her mind without that being added to mix. You have no clue if the OP would be nearly anything except incredibly worried, which she absolutely should be.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              I’m so confused by all your comments regarding the use of the word suicidal. It seems like you think a commenter said this to the OP, but the OP is the one who calls getting involved with watering the plants “near suicidal.” No one is projecting that onto the OP.

              The commenting rules for this site also ask us not to nitpick word choices.

              1. pope suburban*

                Another excellent reason not to nitpick OP’s word choice is that for OP, involvement with law enforcement may actually be highly dangerous. As much as we might all wish differently, it’s pretty clear now that police interactions are much more fraught for nonwhite people, or neurodivergent people, or people with mental illness, or LGBTQIA people. There are quite a few instances where I’d absolutely believe someone who told me that involvement with police would be “suicidal.” So, y’know, OP might have been engaging in a slight bit of hyperbole (Natural, especially under stress) or they might actually be afraid that they will come to serious harm (Unfortunately, also natural). Let’s not pretend that such concerns don’t and shouldn’t exist, and let’s not minimize them.

            2. Avery*

              I’m with BuildMeUp about being confused, and I think you misunderstood my comment regardless. I didn’t mean that such circumstances would make the OP “nearly suicidal”, just that I can see how OP would think such circumstances are high-stakes enough to justify such word choice. It could quite literally make or break the lives of OP and family.

    9. Goldenrod*

      I mean, I live in Seattle where cannabis is totally legal, and so this doesn’t feel like a big deal to me, personally.

      However, what I DO think is a big deal is that someone’s direct report feels VERY uncomfortable with it and the boss thinks it’s somehow okay to keep doing it?? Your office is not your home. Don’t do things that make people feel uncomfortable! Even in Seattle, where pot is legal, this behavior would be considered unprofessional. Grow your plants on your own time! Focus on your work at work. I think it’s super rude and weird that the boss was unable to hear this very reasonable request. It shows an utter lack of respect for others, and it’s an abuse of power as well.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Yeah I’m in California and while I suspect the setup described isn’t legal it’s more “unlicensed business operation” and not “narcotics trafficking” levels of illegal. I wouldn’t have anything to do with it but I wouldn’t worry about it splashing on me.

        Texas though, I’d be talking to a lawyer stat.

    10. Kevin Sours*

      You are probably not a lawyer. You are almost certainly not a lawyer in OP’s jurisdiction. You are definitely not OP’s lawyer. People have been sent to prison for *decades* for having Marijuana. Maybe it’s not likely but you don’t really know what OP’s risk tolerance is.

      OP. I do recommend having a chat with a lawyer in your jurisdiction just to get an idea of what your exposure is and how best to minimize it. I have no other advice.

    11. GoLightly*

      It’s still a drug, dude. Lots of people aren’t cool with drugs in any capacity, including alcohol, and especially not in the workplace. Telling people with reasonable concerns to “chill out” is not helpful. Not to mention, it’s not just a “vibe” – it is literally illegal where OP lives.

    12. Irish Teacher*

      The issue isn’t whether the LW is OK with cannabis or not or whether we are. The issue is that the law may not be and while I think it quite likely the boss is at least middle-class, it sounds like the LW may not be and honestly, if cannabis were found in the business and both the LW and the boss denied knowing anything about, who do you think the police would be more likely to suspect, the middle-class, older woman who is apparently out of the office a lot or the young person in their 20s who is often alone in the office and whose father is on parole for a felony crime and who is the main wage earner for their family?

      We can argue that weed shouldn’t be an issue but…that won’t help the LW if weed is found in the office and the boss blames her for it. And from the original post, it sounds like she lives in an area where it is likely that there would be legal consequences if she were blamed for it.

      This has nothing at all to do with D.A.R.E. It’s about the LW’s particular circumstances.

    13. bamcheeks*

      You can be personally cool with cannabis and also recognise that the entire point of the war on drugs is to give the police easy opportunities to harass anyone who isn’t white or who on parole.

    14. TypityTypeType*

      As the expression goes, easy for you to say. But many people can be remarkably blithe about a risk to somebody else.

      If you feel you’re in the ranks of the enlightened about marijuana, well, good for you.

      But OP lives in an area where cannabis is, right now and today, illegal in all its forms. For her to be unwilling to bet her future on the goodwill of law enforcement — Texas law enforcement — is not paranoia, it is solid good sense.

      OP, I hope you can be out of that place very soon and working for someone much, much better than your current boss. (Not that that is a high bar to clear.)

      1. Anonomite*

        That’s not what AmericannWoman is referring to. She’s not talking about the OP’s concerns; she’s talking about the pearl clutching about this situation being “suicidal.” And how exactly would talking to a lawyer help her in this matter? It’s not like if the cops did bust in and arrest them both, and then it went down a really weird path where she is held accountable for something she had nothing to do with, her previous conversation would be helpful at all.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          and then it went down a really weird path where she is held accountable for something she had nothing to do with

          That would not be a “weird path;” the OP is aware that the plants are there and it would be very, very easy for her to get in trouble along with her boss if the plants were discovered.

          1. Avery*

            Not only is the OP aware of the plants, but the thing that was called “nearly suicidal” was specifically taking care of the plants, which would in fact be being complicit. That’s not even constructive possession, though as others have pointed out, that’s a big enough risk in and of itself. But actually tending to the hydroponics system and working with the plants? That’s helping to grow illegal drugs, full stop, and would make said plants very far from “something she had nothing to do with”.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          Because Texas cops are well known for just accepting “dude that’s not my weed” when they find somebody sitting next to it.

          Specifically a lawyer experienced in Texas law can provide a reasonable estimation of how weird being “held accountable for something she had nothing to do with” actually is and potential steps OP could take to or not take to better distance themselves from the legal consequences of working in a room they know a crime is being committed. Including, potentially, “get the hell out now you fool!”.

          Unless you are a lawyer barred in Texas with an understanding of the specifics of OP’s situation, you really don’t know shit.

    15. emmelemm*

      This has absolutely zero to do with how any of the commenters, or Alison, or the OP feel about marijuana and the morality of it. It has everything to do with how law enforcement in rural Texas feels about it. The OP’s assessment of how cannabis is viewed in her town, where she lives, is probably more accurate than your assessment from afar.

    16. BuildMeUp*

      The OP specifically used the word “suicidal” in regard to the boss wanting her to get involved in watering and caring for the plants. The fact that the OP is aware of the plants could easily get her in trouble if the police became involved; knowingly playing a part in growing them is an awful idea. You sound like OP’s boss, to be honest.

    17. Observer*

      I assume this will be an unpopular opinion, but I just wanted to provide a different perspective from someone who has been adjacent to the cannabis industry in both legal and not-yet-legal states. (Also, hate to say it, but if the boss is white and somewhat well-off the worry reduces to almost nil.)

      This is so ridiculous that I don’t believe that this was written in good faith. Keep in mind that Alison got her start in pot legalization advocacy. And I challenge you to find one person who actually claims that the pot is the problem.

      You won’t find it, because no one claimed that. EVERYONE is ticked because the OP could wind up in major trouble over something they have no control over. And it could wind up harming their father too.

      As for the risk being “almost nil”. Not at all. But what it DOES do is to increase the chances that when the boss tries to blame the OP, the cops will be very happy to take her word for it, to the extent that they go after the OP as well.

    18. inko*

      I bloody love cannabis, but I can still tell that LW’s worries are not without foundation, and I’m not going to come down on her for using a little hyperbole when she’s genuinely frightened for her livelihood and her family. It honestly does sound to me like the boss is trying to get LW involved in the growing so that she’s complicit and won’t dare say anything about it.

      All the comments about sabotage and calling the cops are ludicrous. But I sure as hell wouldn’t feel comfortable assuring LW that she’ll be fine even if the boss gets busted. It’s reasonable to accept that LW is more familiar with law enforcement in her area than I am.

    19. Avery*

      I myself am strongly pro-cannabis… and also have looked through too many court records of people whose lives have been forever changed by an arrest for felony possession to think that the OP is being overly sensitive here.

    20. Paris Geller*

      I am from a small, conservative Texas town probably much like the one OP describes and she is absolutely not underestimating the risk, particularly since OP’s boss is *growing* plants. That is the kind of thing that would absolutely get the book thrown at you in my hometown.

    21. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If LW said that tending the plants would be “near suicidal” for her, that may be hyperbole, but it’s not ridiculous, and it’s not anyone else here judging her.

      The risk to the white, somewhat well-off boss may be low, and is probably lower than the risk to the LW. Those points do the LW no good: her boss may be less likely to go to jail than she is, and less likely to sit in jail before trial, but that won’t keep LW safe, and it doesn’t mean LW’s father’s parole won’t be revoked if someone in his household is arrested for possession of marijuana.

      It is possible to think that marijuana should be legal, and conscious of the systemic racism that is baked into the “war on drugs,” and also be aware of the fact that laws against marijuana are on the books in many places, and often enforced.

      1. Observer*

        It is possible to think that marijuana should be legal, and conscious of the systemic racism that is baked into the “war on drugs,” and also be aware of the fact that laws against marijuana are on the books in many places, and often enforced.


      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        Keep in mind that the charge won’t be possession but more likely growing with an intent to distribute. So that’s a drug dealer charge. It could go very badly for OP.

    22. Ginger Pet Lady*

      And I’m a bit shocked that you seem to completely misunderstand the risks people are talking about.
      It’s all well and good that YOU are comfortable with cannabis. Awesome. I agree with you.
      But OP lives in a hostile area with law enforcement that doesn’t share the idea that it’s something to look aside.
      Plus, her boss seems to want to set up OP to take the fall if she gets caught. If the boss is white and well-off then the boss might very easily be able to blame this on the less well off (as evidenced that OP is worried about her family finances if she just quits) and maybe not white OP.
      No one is talking about how bad marijuana is. No pearl clutching over that.
      But definitely concern about the legal risks to a young person who might be in the cross fire between hostile law enforcement and a boss setting her up to take the fall.

    23. Darsynia*

      They’re so obviously not in the same situation as you as to make this comment really myopic. ‘You ought to chill out’ is what you’re saying, but OP has valid concerns that you’re dismissing. Picture a boss who wants the OP to care for ammunition that’s been banned in their state. Or exotic pets. The fact that it’s cannabis is almost beside the point– they’re being exposed to a legal liability and they shouldn’t have to be. Show some compassion, sheesh.

    24. NothingIsLittle*

      It seems like you and OP’s boss are doing the same mental gymnastics to say that there is no risk in this situation, regardless of some pretty clear evidence that there is, because you don’t believe there should be a risk on principle.

      People have a right to feel safe in their environment. Even when they’ve perceived a more exaggerated risk than exists to them, they have a right for their concerns to be approached with compassion and empathy. By the OPs accounts, that did not happen. I’m deadly allergic to marijuana and have received the same response from roommates who knew I had an inhaler and simply didn’t believe a risk to me really existed because they didn’t want to believe it existed. The bottom line is that in the environment OP describes, there is a history of the police looking for and prosecuting marijuana possession.

      Also, I’m sorry, marijuana just doesn’t belong in the workplace unless you are working in the industry. I believe it should be legalized, but in the same way alcohol and being drunk at work are inappropriate, so is marijuana and being high. Most people would oppose the risk and inconvenience that brewing moonshine at work poses too.

    25. anonymousity*

      Hi there. I have been extremely involved in drug policy reform campaigns including cannabis legalization. I believe all drugs should be decriminalized, not just cannabis.

      If you are involved at all in cannabis legalization advocacy, you should be aware of the dire consequences there are for people in states where it’s 100% illegal. It’s one thing to say “in an ideal world this wouldn’t be a problem”, but it’a another thing to say that those of us sounding alarm bells are buying into propaganda. We are talking about the current reality in 2022, in a small rural conservative town in Texas. This is not the same thing as growing weed in a large city where police are concerned about other things. And more to that point, the OP’s dad was previously arrested and did time so chances are high that the police know him and his family.

      And even with all that aside, it is astoundingly disrespectful to grow something in your office that is not legal where you live and then implicate your employee in the process. There is nothing wrong with LW’s boss growing cannabis at her own house or literally anywhere else. I will judge the hell out of any employer who implicates their employee in a crime, whether it’s growing weed in the office in a state where that is a felony or whether it’s an employer asking an employee to help them embezzle. That is an abuse of power, and it doesn’t matter whether cannabis should be legal because the abuse of power is what makes this so screwed up.

    26. Princess Sparklepony*

      This is happening in a conservative rural part of TX that is very anti-drug.

      You can take the risk if you like, but for OP it’s a huge risk. Especially if she is a POC.

      It’s not happening in CA or NY or a progressive state. You really need to be aware of how things work in non-liberal places. And sure, the mayor’s kid would likely be fine in TX if he or she was OP but it doesn’t sound like OP is connected like that.

      I got no problem with weed and I think it should be legal. I’d be tempted to try some edibles to help with sleep, but I’m not going to mess my lungs up with smoking it. And I also think that the people I know who smoke a lot of week seem not so sharp. When you are younger you can compensate for it, but as you age it seems to have more of an effect on your synapses. But not everyone has that happen.

    27. TrixM*

      I’ve grown the stuff myself in a place where it’s decriminalised, and I think your attitude here is way too dismissive. Not to mention the patronising preaching about the “medicine of the ages”.

      The OP lives in a place where pot possession is a serious deal, so being “involved” in manufacturing it will be that much worse. She did not consent to being engaged in illegal activity when she took the job. As someone who has family members who’ve been in jail, it’s not surprising that the OP is hyper-vigilant about illegal activity. And in Texas, who can blame them. Finally, the boss is just being willfully obtuse and rude.

      Your points might have some validity if the LW had taken the job in the boss’s private home, with full knowledge of the weed-growing prior to working there – I used to mow lawns for someone very ill with AIDS who consumed pot medicinally where it’s still illegal, but I *agreed* to it. But this is a separate workplace, the boss is breaking the law, no matter how cool you think weed is, and the (young, disadvantaged) LW did not sign up for that.

  22. DisneyChannelThis*

    Do not sabotage the plants. Talk to the lawyer. Quit as soon as you can. Boss has already shown they are extremely casual about breaking the law, do not give them reasons to be mad at you or wanting revenge on you.

    1. Observer*

      I think that this is your best course.

      Stop taking the seeds out. Stop doing ANYTHING that touches any of the plants (even the non-cannabis plants.)

      But do the rest ASAP.

  23. cardigarden*

    OP, depending on how many plants are in the office, that’s not a misdemeanor charge. Per Google, anything over 4oz in Texas is a FELONY charge, a minimum of 180 days in jail, and ~$10,000 in fines. If your boss’s plant collection is more like a forest, you’re risking 2-10 years in prison. That’s not worth whatever your paycheck is bringing in. Talk to a lawyer and get out.

    1. cardigarden*

      (Mostly the details are for the members of the commentariat who think some of these comments are anti-cannabis just to be anti-cannabis)

  24. Wattss*

    “We’re technically not within city limits”

    Should somebody tell her FEDERAL guidelines don’t GAF about city limits?

    1. Avery*

      I think the logic is “so city police can’t go after me for it”… but yeah, that doesn’t rule out the feds, or for that matter state or county police, and also I’m not sure that theory even works. I’m pretty sure city cops don’t necessarily just sit on their hands because a crime happened slightly outside of their official jurisdiction.

      1. Anonomite*

        The feds do not care about a few plants for personal use. It’s a waste of their time and resources to do anything at a federal level that can clearly be handled at the local level. Are y’all okay?

        1. judyjudyjudy*

          I just sat on a federal jury for a charge of cannabis possession with intent to distribute. The incident occured in a state where cannabis is legal. It was a lot of pot for personal use, but not like…hundreds of pounds of pot. I think they care about little stuff when it suits them.

        2. Avery*

          County police still sound pretty local to me. My point that just because this technically isn’t the city’s jurisdiction doesn’t mean SOME kind of police won’t pursue the crime, and that OP’s boss’ claim otherwise is foolishly misguided at best and blowing off legitimate concerns at worst, still stands.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          What about the feds finding and turning info over to the local jurisdiction? I’ve got family in law enforcement- and they have told me it’s not uncommon for that to happen.

          The risks aren’t minor – but loosing your home because you quit a job is also not a minor thing. OP sounds like they have a plan to get out just as soon as they can. I’m hoping that they are able to get out before their boss gets busted and they get taken down on accessory charges.

  25. Student*

    Home Depot and similar hardware stores have a large selection of plant-killing chemicals. Some of those chemicals last a long time, requiring the dirt to be replaced in order to get rid of the effect.

  26. RagingADHD*

    If the goal is not to get involved, keep your head down, and get out as quickly and quietly as possible, I can’t imagine why taking the seeds out of the hydroponic system (or other forms of sabotage suggested in the comments) would be considered a good idea by anyone.

    It is literally getting yourself involved.

    There’s being put into a bad situation, and then there’s leaping directly into the middle of a bad situation with both feet. The LW seems to be going for option 2.

    1. ?*

      Yes! I am baffled by the people who think that damaging the garden will do anything other than enmesh OP further, potentially anger the boss if she figures it out, and prompt the boss to go out and buy new equipment/seeds and start over. Maybe it would buy a day or two of there technically being no plants in the office because they are dead, but the boss seems into this project for it to make any difference over the long term.

    2. Princess Sparklepony*

      I’d be looking into look alike plants that could be subbed in for the weed…. something would still be growing there, no harm to the system either.

  27. another glorius morning*

    I wouldn’t call the cops esp in a rural community. If the people in this story are a POC it could end badly.

    OP – do you think you possibly quit and get another job quickly? I am not sure how it is in your area but nearly everywhere near me is hiring. Retail, restaurants, supportive care in medical facilities. I am not sure if these types of jobs would support yourself and family, but perhaps it would be worth looking into. Best of luck.

    1. Wintermute*

      only a lawyer can say if it’s the best way to avoid being convicted of possession with intent. It’s very possible it’s the best possible idea in the situation for the LW.

  28. Danish*

    I don’t think you should pick the seeds out or anything, because if nothing else you can maintain an honest “I did not interact with the plants in any way, ever, and did not want to”. If not legal reasons then just for your own inner peace.

    But this is awful, I’m sorry you live in such a restrictive state, and work with a boss that doesn’t care how much risk she’s exposing you (and your family) to.

  29. anon4eva!*

    I think you should get another job. You can’t plead plausible deniability, so you’d be stuck pleading the fifth.
    I wonder if your boss has a medicinal purpose for this? It’s sad to think this issue is strictly a state boundary issue, not a moral or ethical one.

  30. Hell Job Escapee*

    I don’t know if this has been brought up in this comment section or under the original post, but OP, if the worst case scenario happens and the police do show up, please, please, please invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Do not talk to the cops without an attorney present. Yes, you’ve done nothing wrong and the plants belong to your boss, but the cops will very likely not care.

    If you need scripts on what to say, look up “Pot Brothers at Law” on YouTube. They go over a few different scenarios and what you should do (and not do) if you’re stopped/questioned by the police. Just be aware there is cursing in the videos.

    Wish you the best on finding a new job and hope you can find one quickly.

    1. raincoaster*

      Yes! This! I used to know a lawyer who specialized in weed defence. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT except to insist on a lawyer.

  31. Curmudgeon*


    All plausible deniability goes out the window the second you touch the plants.

    I recommend you quit & get a lawyer ASAP. It’s not ideal but could you get a retail job to cover the time it takes to find a new job? I don’t trust your employer to keep you out of this mess.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Honestly I recommend you get a lawyer ASAP and then do what they tell you. Everything else is noise.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I mean, if they could afford to hire a lawyer they could have afforded to quit a long time ago. I think they’d have a very hard time finding a lawyer to deal with this pro-bono, because a lawyer’s #1 piece of advice would be “GTFO already.” What lawyer is going to invest time in helping someone actively & knowingly participate in an illegal operation on an ongoing basis?

      There is no scenario in which they can avoid being implicated at all, and also keep their job. Especially because they have been given a tour & training in the grow room, and are actively handling/interfering with the growing apparatus.

      Their choices remain the same as before: call the authorities and immediately lose their job; quit and call the authorities; or maintain the job and keep their mouth shut.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        An afternoon with a defense lawyer to go over your situation and to access risks may be outside of OP’s means, but it’s not going to be ruinously expensive either — certain not “if I had that money I could afford to quit” money. And you’d be surprised how sympathetic lawyers are likely to be to “I’d love to bail but I have bills to pay”. Lawyers pay bills too.

        And you are inserting your own baseless assumptions about who the legal issues are likely to play out.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I would love to hear any realistic scenario that doesn’t involve a) quitting, b) losing their job or c) keeping their mouth shut until they can afford a) or b).

          Sincerely, I am intensely curious as to what other option you think is feasible.

  32. Madame X*

    Glad to hear that there is some positive progress in your situation. It is really terrible that they are places in the world, and in this case the United States, that having cannabis in your possession could endanger your freedom.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t see any positive progress here at all. To the contrary – the boss is trying to pull the OP in even further, telling them to plant seeds and work on the plants.

      1. Darsynia*

        I suspect the positive progress is the living situation not being wholly dependent on OP, who can now look for a new job without worrying that the process might leave the fam without financial support. But I agree, it’s thin, precarious progress, and everything work related is still flames on the side of OP’s face.

  33. raincoaster*

    I hope it brings you some satisfaction to know, OP, that weed growers lost billions in Canada (where it is legal) last year and this new sideline is probably going to die off pretty quickly.

    1. Avery*

      What is the significance here? We don’t know OP’s personal opinion on cannabis use, just that OP doesn’t want to risk getting caught up in a legal case about it somewhere that cannabis is very illegal and very much searched for by law enforcement when OP’s father already has a criminal record. And just because Canada’s weed growers didn’t end up well doesn’t mean OP’s boss is going to see that as a reason to stop growing–she could just as easily see it as a reason to grow more, because there’s less competition!

    2. Criminologist here*

      I also have trouble seeing the relevance to OPs situation, esp as boss seemed to grow for own use. Besides, why rejoice at people losing money on their legal business?

  34. Criminologist here*

    Please, please, please leave the job as soon as humanly possible, OP!! The risk is high, especially as boss is so oblivious.

  35. Jackalope*

    Literally, talking to a lawyer would give her a specific idea of how much danger she’s in right now in her specific town and with her background. None of us in this conversation are Texan lawyers (or at least no one has claimed to be), and we don’t know the particulars. A lawyer who is familiar both with her family’s situation as well as the local situation (i.e., is her local sheriff a real jerk about this sort of thing or more willing to ignore a first time offense?) can give her much more specific and helpful advice than we can. And she can make a more informed decision about whether to, say, head for the hills immediately or wait until she can find something else. And remember that talking to her father’s lawyer was the OP’s idea, not something suggested by the commentariat.

  36. DJ Abbott*

    OP, I think you should take the advice to get out now. Hanging around is too big a risk. If you can work from home and never set foot in the office again, do that. Don’t even go back to get personal items from your desk. Maybe I’ve seen too much TV, but the thought of you doing that scares me. If you can’t work from home, quit now and find some kind of temporary or freelance legal way to make money tomorrow. Are there any restaurants in your area that are hiring, or grocery stores? It’s pretty easy to get a job like that if they’re hiring.
    You could try simply telling your boss you’re going to work from home and not come back to the office. It sounds like she doesn’t have the focus or willpower to stand up to you, so it might be worth a try.
    Also, please talk to the lawyer today.

  37. Just me*

    Talking to a lawyer now could help her understand what she would be risking by taking various courses of action.

    Could her situation at work actually get her dad in legal trouble? Would it be easier for the lawyer to defend her if she tries to sabotage her boss’s plants, or would it be easier if she never interacts with the plants at all? Is there a paper trail or pattern of behavior she could start establishing now that would help clear her later?

    Those are the kinds of questions a lawyer could answer. Those answers could help her decide what she wants to do next.

  38. Dirk*

    As a casual cannabis user in a restrictive state myself, this boss needs to be discrete yet I suspect she is aware of the widespread use of cannabis in her community and that gives her the sense of freedom to be so casual with the plant. I too am often amazed at the people who tell me they are users. Just the other week a man was telling me how much cannabis has helped his wife with cancer and that he grows it himself and makes oil, which is illegal in our state. Law enforcement increasingly cannot be bothered.

    1. judyjudyjudy*

      So, what is your advice to OP? To not worry about it? Can OP reasonably assume their boss will be discrete? What are your thoughts on the boss asking the OP to tend the plants? Maybe law enforcement cannot be bothered to actively investigate every suspected pot grower, but if they come into the business (even off-duty as a patron!) and see the plants, I’m willing to bet the boss and OP will be charged with possession to start — so maybe OP could consider the likelihood of that happening. Also, I literally just sat on a federal jury where something like this happened. A young father is going to jail because he was unlucky and law enforcement saw his drugs (cocaine and pot) while they were executing a warrant in relation to his housemate. So…unlikely, but the consequences are pretty grim.

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