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How Angry Cops Could Undo Trump’s Farm Bill… And the Legal Hemp Market

How Angry Cops Could Tank the Hemp Market
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How Angry Cops Could Undo Trump’s Farm Bill… And the Legal Hemp Market

Despite nominal legalization, state law enforcement continues to crack down on hemp, which spells trouble for the future of the industry.

Oklahoma has a popular medical marijuana program, and considering that cannabis is already available there less than a year after voters legalized it, the state is something of a model for how to pull off that feat. Oklahoma was also one of the states to establish a pilot program to allow its farmers to grow industrial hemp, even before the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp production, sales, and distribution legal nationwide.

For these reasons, you could almost fool yourself into thinking that Oklahoma is cannabis-friendly, or at least hemp-friendly. And it might be the case, except for the fact that Oklahoma also has police.

Hemp Fought the Law, and the Law Won

Prosecutors and police officers in the Sooner State are apparently hell-bent on sending four men to prison on drug-trafficking charges. The crime? Ferrying through their state what the accused swear is hemp — but what the law insists, against all reason and against testing data, is marijuana.

This case and another in Idaho — where state police seized another tractor-trailer full of what the shipping manifest says is 7,000 pounds of hemp on the grounds that it, too, is in fact marijuana — reveal a massive problem with the nascent American hemp trade, which both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have touted as a great new thing.

That problem is, in a word, cops. Cops could choose to upend the entire industry if shipments can’t get through certain states without running the risk of seizure. For the reasons listed above, the men running their hemp from McConnell’s Kentucky to a processor in Colorado chose to go through Oklahoma, believing it would be safer—that, and a phone conversation with state police in Kansas and Nebraska, who told them point-blank that they’d be arrested if they tried to drive hemp through their states, according to Tulsa World.

But now, with Oklahoma, Idaho and who knows how many other states seeming no-go zones for hemp, there is a vast moat in between hemp-producing states and some of their potential market and an enormous disincentive for any entrepreneurs to attempt to test the rules.

A Murky Future

In the Idaho case, the company in question, Big Sky Scientific, has sued the Idaho State Police for the release and return of its product. According to the Associated Press, the company is also pushing for an apology.

The US government classifies “hemp” as cannabis sativa with 0.3 percent or less of THC. Anything with more THC is considered legally marijuana, and thus subject to state and federal drug-control laws. Hemp is legal to grow in all 50 states under the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump.

In Oklahoma, after a field search, prosecutors recently sent the 9,000-pound shipment for testing. According to daily paper Tulsa World, they are pushing for marijuana trafficking charges — which could mean decades in prison — after one of 11 samples taken from the load tested at 0.5 percent THC, with a margin of error of one-tenth.

Most marijuana, or at least most marijuana that anyone who uses marijuana would want anything to do with, tests at 15 percent THC or more. So in other words, plant material that is 30 times weaker than cannabis that would not qualify for shelf space in Oklahoma dispensaries could mean the end of an interstate hemp industry, despite laws on the books that allow hemp that exceeds the 0.3 percent limit to be punished with nothing more than an administrative penalty.

Both the hemp producer in Kentucky and the company where it was to be processed in Colorado are in good standing with the necessary licenses, according to Tulsa World.

Somehow, the situation is even worse in Idaho, which borders several states where recreational marijuana is legal. There cops told the AP that “anything with THC” can be seized in that state, which means any hemp at all is subject to seizure.

From a layman’s perspective, these are weak cases. The individuals involved made no attempt to hide what they were doing and don’t appear to have criminal records. This is not exactly El Chapo-level stuff.

And from the hemp industry’s perspective, these developments are disasters that place a giant chilling effect on what was promised to be a new era for American hemp.

TELL US, how do you think state police should treat the hemp industry?

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Gary

    February 14, 2019 at 8:28 am

    This is horrible to put anyone in jail or even prison over trying to transport hemp. The thc level is so low it can olny be hemp and should be treated any other commodity for production. Let’s stop nitrate its a major explosion additive. Or even bleach that could be used to cause harm if mis handled. I believe that there are bigger problems and alot more dangerous items being transported across the state of Idaho then a freaking useless plant that contains less thc 1 percent. Let’s stop harmful chemicals from being transported that could cause major damage. Oh but big business owners wouldn’t like that much would they. I think with an investigation there is a major organization that is demanding that hemp production be hendered any way possible. President Trump made the decision to let hemp be grown stop undermining our progress Idaho, and turn loose these men. And the hemp! The citizens of of America are tired of being prosecuted over a weed. And treated like cattle locked up in cages over trying to make use of a God made herb that has been proven beneficial for more applications then just about anything else on the planet.

  2. Paul Pot

    February 14, 2019 at 5:11 am

    The police may slow things down and give some people a really hard time in the short term but they actually do us a favor by showing the failures in the laws. And by showing us what a bunch of pricks they are they galvanize the people to demand more reforms. Ending cannabis prohibition is actually part of a much bigger societal revolution that is playing out as we watch.

  3. YearofAction

    February 13, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    “Marijuana” and “hemp” are incorrectly regarded as plants at the federal and state levels, but those terms actually refer to ways of using cannabis plants.

    One clarifying reform of the federal definition of Schedule 1 marijuana will restore and protect the rights of citizens to grow and use all cannabis plants, as the 9th and 10th Amendments originally intended and as provided for in Sections 1 and 5 of the 14th Amendment. Let’s contact our representatives in Congress to enact this clear and comprehensive reform that upholds our Constitution, to put a stop to these state level interdictions that are based on the THC content of a plant:

    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is the intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

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