Case remains in the weeds

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Kenbridge man has spoken out and recently filed a formal complaint toward three police officers in response to a search warrant at his property that involved removing plants cited to be legal to plant in Virginia.

George Ogburn, of Kenbridge, said in addition to removing several kenaf plants from his property, police removed his laptop, security recorder and Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, used for medical purposes such as epilepsy and managing chronic pain.

Ogburn said he left his home Aug. 8 to make an appointment in Emporia. A search warrant by police took place when he was away.

His next door neighbor saw the raid and contacted Ogburn. Ogburn responded he was on his way home. Oguburn said the neighbor notified officers at the scene that

Ogburn was on his way back home.

Ogburn said the officers left when he reached his home.

He said he had a broken lamp, a toilet running and the entrance to his attic broken at his residence following the search.

“It sure is a shame, you know?” Ogburn said about the incident. He said the plants in question removed were not cannabis, or marijuana plants, but kenaf, which he said is legal to grow in Virginia.

According to documentation from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), section 7606 of the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 allows “an institute of higher education or a state department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if certain conditions are met and … specifies that industrial hemp may not have a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent.”

The General Assembly also recently created a new hemp research program effective July 1 in addition to the existing higher education industrial hemp research program. The program is directly managed by VDACS and allows Virginians “to grow or process industrial hemp without being a participant in a research program managed by an institution of higher education.”

Ogburn filed a formal complaint toward Christopher Wallace, Mike Landry and Jason Lacks of Kenbridge Police Department.

A statement from Virginia State Police said the Tri-County Drug and Gang Task Force executed a search warrant at a residence in Kenbridge Aug. 8.

“The task force secured the search warrant based on a tip and additional intelligence regarding the residence and suspected illegal drug activity,” the statement cited. “During the course of the search warrant, the task force seized drug paraphernalia, processed narcotics that tested positive for marijuana and what appeared to be marijuana plants.”

Police said all materials were transported to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for testing. The statement cited that charges are pending the test results and ongoing investigation.

Ogburn said his advocacy for the medicinal benefits of CBD, which does not create the high most commonly associated with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis, began after he got hit head-on in a bike accident.

He said the accident resulted in two neck surgeries and two back surgeries. He said he was put on pain medication, including Percocet and Valium for four years.

He said he visited his niece in Colorado, where he received a card that allowed him to purchase CBD. Ogburn said he found relief through CBD. He said he has been off pain medication for six years.

He said after finding the relief CBD brought for his chronic neck and back pain, his goal has been to help others experience the same.

Ogburn said he is in the process of getting licensed to grow industrial hemp.