California lawsuit over hemp destruction on hold

A federal judge in California has tapped the brakes on a lawsuit from a hemp grower who saw the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife bulldoze 500 acres of his plants.

Apothio is suing the state and also Kern County authorities for $1 billion after the plants were razed in 2019. Apothio argues that the destruction was based on a flawed search warrant.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says the case should be thrown out because the plants were illegal contraband, not legal hemp. A year after the raid, Apothio’s principal was charged with illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana.

Judge Jennifer Thurston ordered the lawsuit put on hold Thursday while the court takes up the agency’s move to dismiss the case. Law 360 first reported the delay.