Federal appeals court rules against Colorado hemp firm seeking return of its plants

A federal appeals court ruled against a Colorado hemp company trying to force Idaho authorities to release hemp seized in a January traffic stop.

Big Sky Scientific of Aurora, Colorado, asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule an Idaho court that wouldn’t return roughly 7,000 pounds of hemp biomass seized by police in Ada County, Idaho. The hemp was grown in Oregon and bound for extraction in Colorado.

A three-judge panel declined Big Sky’s request Wednesday, saying the company must use Idaho courts to pursue its claim that interstate hemp transportation was guaranteed in last year’s Farm Bill.

The decision does not mean that Big Sky won’t get its hemp back, just that federal courts won’t interfere to speed the return.

Idaho officials argued in court that Big Sky “jumped the gun” by shipping hemp through Idaho before the 2018 Farm Bill is fully implemented.

Though the law guarantees hemp transportation, the measure also stipulates it won’t take effect until the U.S. Department of Agriculture sets rules for how to grow hemp and test its THC content.

The Idaho decision is likely to keep hemp companies from moving the crop across state lines, though USDA rules needed to implement it are expected this fall.