Pot growers' land given to Tennessee

June 13, 2012 at 10:37 PM
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WOODBURY, Tenn., June 13 (UPI) -- The federal government has turned to the state of Tennessee more than 1,000 acres of undeveloped land it seized from two marijuana growers, officials said.

The parcel, located on Short Mountain in Cannon County, will be known as the Headwaters Wildlife Management Area. Short Mountain is the headwaters for three Tennessee watersheds.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a release Wednesday the land was forfeited to the United States as part of the 2007 federal criminal convictions of Morris Roller and Jeffory Carl Young for distribution of marijuana. Roller was sentenced to 200 months in prison and Young 224 months.

"This land transfer highlights the benefits of asset forfeiture as a crime-fighting tool," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said. "Our law enforcement efforts put an end to illegal drug production on this land and secured its preservation for years to come."

U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said it was the largest transfer for conservation purposes in the past 15 years by the federal government to a governmental entity.

"Now, rather than being used for growing marijuana or violating other laws, it will be used for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing and hunting," said Killian, who gave credit to his predecessor, Russ Dedrick, for arranging the federal donation.

A dedication ceremony was held on the land Wednesday.

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