Va. man acquitted of marijuana charges from flyover

Posted at 12:00 AM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-20 00:00:50-04

Albemarle County, Va. (WTVR) – Almost a year ago, Philip Cobbs’ Albermarle sanctuary was interrupted by chaos when black choppers flew overhead and spotted two marijuana plants on his property.

Within minutes, he said a swarm of officers dressed in fatigues showed up at his driveway.

“Police officers were moving very quickly towards me with rifles pointed at my direction,” he said.

Without a warrant, they walked across the yard and found the two small plants near the fence line.

“That was a direct violation of my civil liberties,” said Cobb.

But a judge said investigators had the right to cross the yard without a warrant in order to reach the fence line where the plants were on Cobbs’ 39-acre-farm.

The 54-year-old man was charged with possession and he hired attorneys from the Rutherford Institute. A general district court judge found him guilty in October 2011.

Yet, Cobbs insisted he did not know about the plants, so he appealed. And, Wednesday, a circuit court jury agreed and acquitted him.

Despite his victory, Cobbs, a retired U.S. Navy meteorologist, said he has concerns. “I don't believe, as a gardener, anyone could identify a plant from 500 feet,” he said.

He also said he’s terrified by recent talk of more surveillance drones being used by law enforcement in Virginia.

“As a man who has been in the service and has defended my country, I really feel this is an invasion of my person rights,” Cobb said.

Virginia State Police, who lead the investigation refused to comment, but Albemarle police did, saying in part: I think we operated under the guidelines set forth by state police and Albemarle police as it relates to this type of operation.