A South Glens Falls, New York plant nursery is suing the Washington County sheriff after deputies destroyed more than 250 licensed industrial hemp research plants last October, the Daily Gazette reports. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim Fourth Amendment violations – unlawful search and seizure – due process violations, negligence, and infliction of emotional distress.
Toadflax Nursery, Z&M Farm and Richard W. Morris Jr., the managing member of both entities, are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Z&M is described as the owner of the property, the report says. Toadflax has been licensed by the state Agriculture Department to cultivate hemp since May 2019.
According to the lawsuit outlined by the Gazette, on Oct. 1, 2019, Washington County Sheriff’s deputies spotted a group of people and a vehicle leaving the property at about 9 p.m. The officers stopped the car and noticed a pile of plants laying on the side of the road. After about an hour of roadside interviews, the deputies began uprooting hemp plants in the field.
The lawsuit points out that the plants had the tags required by New York state law which include license and business information and the plant’s strain. The plaintiffs also note that the cultivators followed “sound practices” for growing the crop – including positioning them out of public view – as hemp plants are sometimes mistaken for THC-rich cannabis and targeted by thieves.
The lawsuit names the county, Sheriff Jeffrey J. Murphy, and several department employees as defendants.