A cannabis farmer who grew the weed to cultivate strands for possible industrial use, is claiming R620 000 in damages from the police after he was "unlawfully arrested" for possession of the plant.

The farmer had claimed that he in fact had a permit to be in possession of 1,2 tons of seeds.

A second claim for R2-million in damages against the police is expected to be served before the Pretoria High Court at a later stage by Russell de Beer after he claimed he had lost his crops and his business had collapsed because of the conduct by the police.

De Beer on Thursday broke down and cried bitterly as he told the court of his nightmare ordeal when he was arrested in February 2004 following a police raid on his farm in the Kameeldrift area.

"It was terrible. I had lost everything," an emotional De Beer said.

De Beer, who lived in Switzerland before, came to South Africa to see whether it was possible to cultivate cannabis for industrial use.

He said he approached the Agricultural Research Council and was told that it was viable as they too were conducting research in this field. De Beer bought a farm where cannabis was planted in 2002 by the council. He said the plan was to cultivate the strands.

De Beer also imported cannabis from France to see whether it acclimatised in South Africa.

Tests were being done on the seeds, the leaves, the stalks and on the oils, to among others, determine the density of the hemp fibre.

The product could be used in the clothing manufacturing industry, as well as in making soap.

The ultimate idea was to patent his product, but his dream fell through when police raided his farm in 2004.

The cops showed him a search warrant, which claimed that he was dealing in cannabis, that he was selling it and using.

De Beer said this was not true, as he had a permit to research the product.

"The police never bothered to contact the council to see whether I had a permit. I never dealt in cannabis, I never sold it and I never consumed it," De Beer said.

The police took pictures of various tubs with seeds, stems, flowers and leaves in, which stood mostly in De Beer's kitchen. He explained that he did not have a laboratory on the farm and that the kitchen was used for this purpose.

He said he was arrested and had to spend a night in a police cell, before he was granted R8 000 bail the next day at the Brits magistrate's court. His subsequent court case dragged on for nearly a year, during which time it was postponed several times. All charges were eventually withdrawn against him.

De Beer said he had to liquidate his business to be able to foot his legal bill.

But counsel for the police denied that De Beer had a valid permit when the cannabis was planted on his farm in 2002. De Beer said the cannabis crop was planted by the council at the time and he assumed they had a valid permit to do so. He added that he later obtained his own permit for his research purposes.

The case is proceeding.

News Hawk- Ganjarden http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: IOL
Author: Zelda Venter
Contact: IOL
Copyright: 2008 Independent Online
Website: Hemp Farmer To Sue Cops For R2,6m