Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants 10/17/03

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The Harrison County, Mississippi, Sheriff's Office thought it had scored a big bust last month when it raided a hunting club and destroyed more than 500 suspected marijuana plants. Oops! It turns out the plants were actually kenaf, a plant harvested as a wood substitute and used for deer and other animal feed. And the president of the hunt club, who saw the raid unfolding on television, told Sheriff George Payne Jr. just that before Payne's raiders cut down the innocent herbs.

Now, hunt club president Bucky Waldman wants the county to pay $255,000 for the damage it did. In a demand letter addressed to Harrison County officials, Waltman accused Payne and his agents of negligence, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Walton told the Jackson Sun Herald he took the step after the sheriff's office refused to resolve damages caused by the September 8 raid on Boarhog Hunting Club land.

"I want them to fix the road and gate they destroyed, compensate me for my plants, arrest the people that were trespassing and apologize to the hunting clubs," Waltman said. "I think [Payne] made a mistake, and now he doesn't know how to fix it. I've just had my 12th heart surgery. I don't need this stress. I used to be just an old hunting club president," he complained. "Now, people know me as the old dope-grower."

Sheriff Payne had little to say, except "we were assisting the DEA-HIDTA task force on an investigation they were conducting. Everything that was done was done in the interests of public safety." That's more than either the DEA or local HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) had to say. They wouldn't talk to the local paper.

The sheriff had earlier reported that people seen picking leaves from the destroyed plaints had threatened teens cruising the property on four-wheelers. The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has done its part to fight the kenaf menace, warning that smoking it can cause illness. But no one has named the law enforcement expert who identified the plant as pot.

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Issue #307, 10/17/03 Supreme Court Upholds Doctors' Right to Recommend Medical Marijuana | Outgoing California Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Guidelines Bill, But Movement Grumbles Over Plant Limits, Caregiver Provisions, More | Bolivia on the Brink: Strikes, Blockades, Mass Marches, Dozens Killed as US-Backed Administration Teeters | DRCNet Interview: Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks | Newsbrief: California's Proposition 36 Generating Big Increases in Drug Treatment | Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia | Newsbrief: Venezuela Vice-Pres Lashes Out at US Drug Czar, CIA | Newsbrief: Bill to Legalize Coca Prepared in Colombia | Newsbrief: Prosecution of Southwest Virginia Pain Doc Stumbles | Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants | Media Scan: Zurita on Bolivia/Coca, Barthwell & Kampia, Boston Phoenix on ONDCP Summit, Clarence Page, Prevention Postcards | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | SSDP ED Search Accepting Applications | The Reformer's Calendar

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