NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A sheriff is protected by qualified immunity after accidentally destroying 500 plants that looked like marijuana, the 5th Circuit ruled.
Marion Waltman had hoped his kenaf plants would attract deer that he could hunt. Instead, they attracted the attention of authorities, who thought the plants were marijuana.
Judge Owen ruled that Sheriff George Payne Jr. was not liable, because kenaf and marijuana plants look alike.
Also, the fact that the plants were growing under power lines also understandably led to the sheriff’s suspicion, since that tactic is often used by marijuana growers.
Waltman chose to plant kenaf after a Mississippi State University study determined that the plant attracts deer and makes the deer larger after they eat it.