Marijuana grower: ‘I wanted to help’

December 19, 2007

Andre A. Rodriguez, Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)

Hendersonville – A man accused of running Henderson County’s largest and most sophisticated marijuana growing operation says he did it out of compassion.

Tod Aiken, of Columbus, said Wednesday the marijuana that led to his arrest was being sold for medicinal purposes.

“There’s a lot of people out there that need medical marijuana,” Aiken said. “I’m a man of compassion. I wanted to help these people.”

Aiken said he began growing marijuana in 2000 to help counteract the effects of hepatitis C treatments.

Henderson County Sheriff Rick Davis said Tuesday that deputies on Dec. 10 found 220 marijuana plants and equipment worth up to $20,000 inside a mobile home Aiken owned in the Jeter Mountain community.

Aiken and his wife, Sharon, were arrested Dec. 11 at their Columbus home.

Growing marijuana is still against the law, whatever Aiken’s reasons, Davis said.

“The ultimate answer here is to look to the law and the law clearly says that to manufacture it is a violation,” Davis said. “The charges are very appropriate.”

Aiken, 50, is charged with maintaining a drug house and manufacturing marijuana. His wife is charged with two counts of trafficking in marijuana and one count of conspiracy to sell and deliver the drug.

Aiken is scheduled to be in court Jan. 4. He said the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access has come to his defense and is providing him support.

Aiken said he wants to be a medical marijuana advocate.



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