Was It Pot Or Not? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/10/03

Was It Pot Or Not?

"It's definitely not marijuana," says Marion Waltman, President of the Boar Hog Huntin

But that's exactly what sheriff's deputies thought hundreds of plants were when they fanned across the fields off Herman Ladner Road Monday afternoon.

Waltman says, "It's a feed sour

Waltman planted the crops and he says they're Kenaf and wild hemp. They feed deer, quail and turkey on land leased by the hunting club. The hemp still stands, but there's no sign of any Kenaf.

"I think the sheriff acted before he knew what he was doing. He should have done the proper channels and then everything would have been fine," Walt

Waltman says he bought the seed from Mississippi State University and planted it in the spring. He says he would have been happy to share that information with Sheriff George Payne.

"I could have got him onto the man from Mississippi State University and he could have called them and verify the seed. I could have showed him a list of the seed, what was listed in the seed. I could have showed him the label and everything would have been fine. He didn't have to come in here and destroy all my food pl

The property is very muddy and officers had to use heavy equipment to get in and out. That left deep ruts in the ground. If the crop was indeed marijuana, The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says the street value would be $750,000. Waltman says that's how much the sheriff should pay him for the lost plants and the damage.

"It was worth $750,000 so I think the sheriff should reimburse me that for comin' in here and doin' all this damag

Whether Waltman is entitled to any damages remains to be seen. Harrison County Supervisors' Attorney Joe Meadows says the county would first have to determine whether the sheriff has any immunity.

Other than the samples that are being tested, the rest of the crop was destroyed. As for whether deputies needed a warrant to go on the property or seize the plants, Sheriff George Payne says they didn't need one, because a DEA Task Force agent spotted the plants from the air. And Sheriff Payne says he knew they'd be criticized whether they took the plants or not.

by Marcia Hill

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