Madison County hemp farmers are pulling out all stops to make sure their crops are protected. One man learned that lesson the hard way.
“When I turned around, the sheriff's deputy was right behind my truck with lights a'goin," Michael Gurley said.
Gurley said it’s been about six years since he’s lived in Hazel Green, so when he saw a field of an unfamiliar crop, he thought he’d stop and check it out.
“Step out and walked up close enough that I could realize what it was. I'm like, oh, that’s neat," he said.
Gurley said he hadn’t been out there for one minute before he came face to face with a Madison County deputy, who told him he could be arrested for just being in the area.
“I walked five feet from my truck and when I turned around to come back, he was there," he said.
The field Gurley stopped at belongs to one of eight Madison County farmers granted a growing permit from the state.
The farmer doesn't want the name or location of his field disclosed. He said it's a lucrative crop, and he fears people will steal it. That's why he pays for security, daily. There are no "private property" or "no trespassing" signs, something Gurley said should change.
“Ten dollars worth of signs at Walmart, "no trespassing," "violators will be prosecuted," something just to give somebody an idea, you know, hey, I don’t need to stop," he said.
The farmer said you could smoke his entire field and not get high. His crop doesn't contain much THC, but he does have reason to fear thefts. The Madison County Sheriff's Office said there have been seven theft-related reports from hemp fields and some trespassing citations.
Gurley said he understands a farmer's need to protect his crop.
“I'm not angry about it, and I appreciate them letting me go," he said.
The Madison County Farmers Federation said security will always be an issue when it comes to hemp fields. They said if medical marijuana is ever grown in Alabama, it will be a bigger concern.
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