Customs accuses Oregon hemp company of international drug smuggling

Federal customs officials say an Oregon hemp company was flying marijuana, not hemp, to Switzerland last year and that the biomass should be destroyed.

The accusation from U.S. Customs and Border Protection came Monday in a lawsuit from We CBD, a hemp producer based in Sandy, Oregon.

We CBD is suing for the return of more than 3,000 pounds of hemp.

Federal officials insist the company was potentially committing fraud while attempting to smuggle drugs out of the U.S., because most of the shipment was made up of federally illegal marijuana and We CBD did not declare its product on the November flight, Law 360 first reported.

In a letter asking a federal court in North Carolina to dismiss We CBD’s lawsuit, the CBP said most of the plants tested hot, above the federally legal THC limit. The agency also filed a separate complaint asking the court to forfeit the remaining 550 pounds of the shipment that tested within the legal THC limits as hemp.

The material that tested hot was seized and destroyed in March. But the remaining hemp plants are still in prosecutors’ possession – and the company wants it back.

In its lawsuit, We CBD accused Customs of taking the material “in a cloak of secrecy and shadow,” even though the carrier brought paperwork from Oregon authorities showing the plant material was grown legally and bound for legal export.

But Customs argued that We CBD loaded its chartered jet with 93 duffel bags and garbage bags filled with cannabis plants and submitted paperwork that the plane carried only crewmembers and no cargo.

The agency said there were We CBD members present on the plane when federal agents examined and tested the shipment when the plane landed in Charlotte, North Carolina en route to Switzerland, and that the agency communicated with the company about seizing the shipment and offered its hemp portion back on the condition that it would agree not to sue over the shipment seizure.