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EARLIER: Hornback: County has marijuana problem

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By Lisa King

At a forum with the Shelby County Republican Party on Thursday night, state Senate candidate Paul Hornback was the guest speaker, and the subject of marijuana came up.

One questioner wanted to know if Hornback favored legalizing marijuana.

"I am against it," he said, adding that he did not think it would possible to keep track of where it would be grown and how it would be used. He said that marijuana grows all around the county on the farms of unsuspecting farmers.

Himself included.

"The state police even came out and found marijuana growing on my farm in my corn field, and also on Mrs. [Emily] Thomas' farm," he said.

"It happens all the time, all over the county. But it's the first time that it's happened to me."

Hornback said he was on vacation at the time, and when he got back, someone told him they thought someone had been in his cornfield.

"They rode a four-wheeler out through the corn, and I saw the tracks," he said. "I thought it was vandals in the corn until I asked around and found out it was the state police who did it."

KSP Post 12 Sgt. David Decker and spokesperson Ron Turley were unavailable for comment on Friday. They previously had told The Sentinel-News they were not aware of any recent marijuana eradication in the county.

Hornback said he doesn't know how much marijuana was cut down, but that the Thomases, Emily and her husband, Ben, whose farm adjoins his on Cropper Road, have also had the problem before.

"We have a very large farm [3,000 acres], and there's no way we can see what's going on," Emily Thomas said in a later interview. "They just come in and during the night, they plant it, they take care of it, always at night late, and they're gone before we're up in the morning and a lot of times, we never even see the stuff, but of course, the police do."

Hornback a longtime influential figure in state agricultural circles is making his first foray as political candidate. Sen. Gary Tapp (R-Shelbyville) announced earlier this year that he was leaving the senate when his term expired, and he endorsed Hornback as his successor.

Hornback's remarks Thursday - and in a subsequent interview with The Sentinel-News - came during a widespread swirl of speculation about police activity on his farm.

Hornback said that although marijuana was found in his cornfield in July, there is no truth to what he called "rumors" that it was discovered in his tobacco patch in September.

"There is no truth to that whatsoever," he said. "I've heard those rumors, too. It's all part of politics."

Hornback said in his opinion, the state police are not concentrating enough effort to try to find out who is planting the marijuana.

"It happens all the time, all over the county, and the state police do nothing, that's what aggravates me," he said. "They come in there and cut it down, destroy my corn trying to get to it to cut it down and never make an attempt to try to catch anybody."