David Knight and Gwendolyn Morgan, both of Lafayette, were arrested and charged with drug possession and harvesting ginseng out of season on June 27 following a traffic stop made by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
According to Detective Donnie Crawford of the Macon County Sheriffs Department, the THP officer discovered a bag containing other small bags of ginseng, a fan box containing ginseng and a Coke box containing ginseng.
After receiving consent to search Knight and Morgan’s Old Bottom Road residence, officers from the Macon County Sheriffs Office located more ginseng including a live ginseng tree inside the home, plastic baggies containing a crystalized substance believed to be methamphetamine and three syringes that contained a liquid substance. A field test indicated a positive result for methamphetamine.
The following day, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was called in to inspect the ginseng belonging to Knight and Morgan.
“In total, there was approximately 7 lbs. of ginseng collected,” Detective Crawford stated. “Some of it was dried and some of it was green.”
Both suspects were charged with harvesting ginseng out of season, possession of a schedule II drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Knight was also charged with driving on a suspended license.
They are scheduled to appear in court on July 27.
Tennessee is one of the nation’s leading producers of ginseng.
Harvesters will often sell the wild ginseng they dig up to certified dealers. The certified dealers then sell the root to China.
Curious about Tennessee Ginseng Laws?
•Wild American Ginseng is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973 (CITES). The objective of the Convention is to monitor, control, and restrict, as necessary, the international trade of certain wild plant and animal species to prevent adverse impacts to their populations and to insure the continued existence of those species in their natural habitat.
•The wild ginseng Harvest Season is from September 1 to December 31 of each year. It is unlawful to dig wild ginseng for the purpose of sale or export on any date not within the ginseng Harvest Season.
•No permits are required to dig wild or cultivated ginseng, but one MUST have the landowner's permission to enter the property and dig wild or cultivated ginseng. Ginseng collectors may dig wild ginseng on their own land.
•It is unlawful to dig, for the purpose of sale or export, any wild ginseng plant that has green berries or that has less than three (3) prongs. A "prong" means a ginseng leaf with three (3) to five (5) leaflets. These are plants are at least five years old and reproductively mature. Mature plants will produce a cluster of green flowers which will produce the ripe berries after fertilization.
•It is unlawful to dig wild ginseng for the purpose of sale or export, and remove the berries of the wild ginseng from the approximate location from which the wild ginseng was dug, and to fail IMMEDIATELY after such digging to plant the berries of the wild ginseng in the approximate location from which the wild ginseng was dug.
For more information on Tennessee Ginseng Laws, visit https://www.tn.gov/environment/article/na-american-ginseng-in-tennessee.