He’d taken a couple of hits when two strangers appeared at the front door. Halbin’s place sits way out of town, off the blacktop, down a dirt road, round a bend, over a bridge and deep into some woods in northwestern Bates County.
Good bet they weren’t solicitors working the neighborhood.
But they did come with purpose and the first words out of one of their mouths stated it clearly:
“I can smell marijuana right now.”
For the rest of the day, Halbin, 60, a retired air conditioning serviceman with a rare and severe form of glaucoma, sat quietly as officers carted out 41 pot plants, growing lights, a dozen or so guns and his grandfather’s pipe collection.
Sometime during all this, Halbin’s wife, Dolores, a registered nurse, came home and saw all the cars. She figured what was happening, got scared and drove on past. She drove around until she ran out of gas.
Now these two are waiting to see whether Gene or both of them will be charged, and Dolores, formerly the school nurse at University Academy in Kansas City, has lost her job at a hospital — all for something that likely would be legal in the 20 states that allow medical marijuana.