Interstate hemp commerce under fire despite Farm Bill assurances

Hemp entrepreneurs are facing jail time and hefty legal fees for transporting the plant across state lines, despite a federal guarantee that states can’t block legal hemp transport.

Massive police seizures in Idaho and Oklahoma raised questions about how state and local law enforcement are supposed to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Since the Farm Bill passed:

  • Four men working for a hemp-transportation company, Patriot Shield National Transport, were stopped in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, for running a red light. All four were charged with drug crimes for allegedly carrying some 18,000 pounds of Kentucky cannabis destined for Panacea Life Sciences, a CBD manufacturer in Louisville, Colorado. The men said they were carrying legal hemp; federal drug authorities say the plants had too much THC to be considered hemp and not marijuana.
  •  An Oregon truck driver was arrested in Boise, Idaho, for carrying roughly 6,700 pounds of cannabis from Oregon to Big Sky Scientific, a CBD manufacturer in Aurora, Colorado.

The cases suggest that local and state law enforcement don’t understand that interstate commerce is legal now for the plant.

“We were very forthcoming with the cops,” said Tyler Dickinson, co-owner of Patriot Shield, with headquarters in Denver and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“We told them, ‘We’re hauling hemp, and here’s our paperwork.’ It was all there, certified by the state of Kentucky.”

In the Idaho case, Big Sky Scientific is suing Idaho State Police over the seizure.

“It’s a lawful crop, akin to oranges or potatoes or cotton,” Elijah Watkins, Big Sky’s lawyer, told Hemp Industry Daily.

“We have a state completely stopping interstate commerce of a federally legal commodity.”

Industrywide chill

The cases also raise an uncomfortable prospect for the booming CBD industry: raw cannabis materials destined for CBD extraction can start out as legal hemp – testing at or below 0.3% THC – but it can mature during storage or transport so that the material becomes illegal marijuana.

“We had a license for every single box in the truck,” Dickinson said. “We still believe that what we were carrying was legal hemp – and even if it wasn’t, we did our due diligence.”

The high-profile hemp seizures have the booming CBD industry wondering how much they can trust the Farm Bill’s guarantee that “no state or Indian tribe shall prohibit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products.”

In the Idaho case, for example, a Big Sky official said the company will be hurt even if the hemp is released and Idaho concedes the commerce was legal, because supply-chain disruptions can hurt any new business.

“They’re paying attorney’s fees for something that was settled in federal law,” Watkins said. “They have contracts to fulfill. This is a burgeoning market.”

Patriot Shield’s Dickinson said its hemp-shipping business has gone ice cold while folks await an Oklahoma resolution.

“Any local law enforcement can mess with any hemp shipment and delay it until the hemp is destroyed,” he noted.

Some CBD companies say they’re sticking within state borders to guard against improper police seizures.

Michael Falcone, CEO of Southern Tier Hemp in Binghamton, New York, said his company plans to extract only hemp grown in his state.

Keeping the hemp local saves money and gives law enforcement time to figure out hemp-transportation laws in the Farm Bill, he said.

“The issue we are all facing right now is that this is so new,” Falcone said. “A regulatory framework is being built as we speak.”

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12 comments on “Interstate hemp commerce under fire despite Farm Bill assurances
  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Thank you for the update, Hemp Industry Daily!

    Law enforcement is fully justified in targeting drivers who violate the most basic road safety measures. In the Patriot Shield case, at least, having the proper documents is not the point. That driver should be roundly condemned for being so careless in “running a red light” in Oklahoma. It’s a very serious traffic infraction. Imagine if a minivan loaded with a nice local family had been t-boned? The question that begs to be asked is: How would a fatal crash caused by driver negligence affect the “burgeoning market” for cannabidiol (CBD)?

    “Patriot Shield’s Dickinson said its hemp-shipping business has gone ice cold while folks await an Oklahoma resolution,” you wrote. That’s not surprising at all, since this story sends new “hemp” companies the crystal clear message that trusting Patriot Shield drivers would be far too risky.

    Further, this story proves beyond any doubt what I’ve been saying for years: CBD is derived from the SAME seedless, female flowers of cannabis plants as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids. How can we expect public officials to know anything, when the cannabis community itself does not seem to understand or acknowledge that basic scientific fact?

    It’s bad enough the community has to fight against unforgiving social stigmas and the false dichotomy of “medical” versus “recreational” use. Sadly, we have become even further divided in the rush to call CBD flowers “hemp” for commercial purposes, regardless of that crop’s traditional definition (“hemp”=pollinating male and seed-bearing female flowers grown together in open fields by farmers, either for cannabis seed or stalk production).

    The federal government still imposes its Schedule I definition of “marihuana” on ALL seedless, female cannabis flowers in America, including those yielding CBD. There are no two ways about it, even considering the legal term “0.3 percent” being codified recently in the Farm Bill.

    Apparently, in order to defeat the ruthless tyranny that legal term “marihuana” empowers, we cannot trust our incompetent, corrupted lawmakers. Millions of Americans with pitchforks should descend on the U.S. Congress for constant demonstrations, much like those held during the Vietnam War. This is a comparable national tragedy, one that has festered without resolution for decades.

    All legitimate cannabis commerce nationwide remains under threat without the total repeal of the 82-year-old “marihuana” fraud passed by Congress. Let’s get it done with no further delay.

    Reply
    • chris cunningham on

      if mj using drivers were jumping outta cars and mowin down cops with tommy guns like during alcohol prohibition this would have been resolved long ago. idaho will dig thru that hemp til they find 1 flower that’s over the .3% threshold and if they don’t they’ll probably get some from an evidence room to make it happen.

      Reply
    • Robert Jack on

      Lawrence,

      Thank you for telling it like it is. I agree with you 100%. Shame on those law makers who continue to perpetuate this law. I have my pitchfork and I’m ready to descend on Washington. This is serious. I’ve been saying this for 30 years.

      Reply
    • Mark Wassner on

      I agree Lawrence. If these “professional” drivers can’t observe & obey basic traffic road safety, especially when carrying MJ, which itself lends to a very touchy situation, they have no place on the highways. The federal illegality needs to be reversed, otherwise we can expect this inept harassment by law enforcement to continue.

      Reply
  2. Relevant Post on

    Traffic violations have ZERO relationship with vehicle contents. Drivers should be cited SOLELY for a moving violation.

    Law enforcement crossed the line by attempting to associate vehicle contents with driver negligence. The contents within the vehicle have absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s failure to stop at the light.

    The judge should throw the case out. In turn, reparations should be made to the company for damaged goods, interfering with interstate commerce, and loss of revenues by the State of Oklahoma.

    Reply
    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      I fully agree with your analysis of vehicle and traffic law, Relevant Post. Yet a key factor here is that this incident occurred in Oklahoma, one of the least cannabis-friendly states in America. All the cops there need is “reasonable cause” to search any vehicle they want for any reason. Because the cannabis flowers being transported were SEEDLESS, the cops simply cannot tell the difference.

      This simply would NOT be a story—or a major problem for Patriot Guard—if the driver was paying attention in the first place. For several years, I drove large rack trucks hauling commercial landscape plants, so I happen to know a lot about road safety (I even made one truly dumb mistake myself, which seriously damaged a brand new dump truck).

      Plus, there was this crucial piece of information in the article, which nullifies your argument about what any judge in Oklahoma “should” do:

      “The cases also raise an uncomfortable prospect for the booming CBD industry: raw cannabis materials destined for CBD extraction can start out as legal hemp – testing at or below 0.3% THC – but it can mature during storage or transport so that the material becomes illegal marijuana.”

      Feel free to chew on that for a bit and get back to me.

      Reply
  3. Brian Williamson on

    The guys who ran the red light was not Patriot Shield, they were following the truck. They had the opportunity to leave but did not. They are true Patriots who faught for our country and our now in a situation where they are fighting a police department trying to hit a grand slam when it is clearly hemp. To have the time condemn people for being trendsetters and commenting on things you know nothing about is one of the problems with this industry. I back the guys at Patriot Shield 100% and wonder if you are this passionate about your own life as you are about your opinion on this situation. People who have time to criticize have time to criticize which means you could possibly have too much time on your hands.

    Reply
    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      Yeah, Brian, I spend a lot of time researching and writing about cannabis plants. I’m not the least bit regretful for devoting 19 years of my life to understanding these truly miraculous gifts from Mother Nature, nor for seeing the many different ways they can uplift our economy and heal our bitterly divided society. So please don’t tell me again that I “know nothing about” them.

      Specifically, I’m most “passionate” about creating legal cannabis opportunities right here in my pathetic home state of New York. You clearly have NO IDEA how a story like the Patriot Shield fiasco plays right into the hands of more than 50 upstate county sheriffs, who recently coordinated hysterical Reefer Madness press conferences statewide precisely to argue that legal cannabis would result in serious dangers on New York roads.

      You also make the same exact mistake as everyone else, calling Patriot Shield’s cargo “hemp,” about which I rambled on at length above. They were transporting SEEDLESS female cannabis flowers, which the Schedule I law still calls “marihuana”—the 2018 Farm Bill’s “0.3 percent THC” rule does not supersede Schedule I, according to federal tyrants.

      Reply
  4. A Likely Story on

    This a conflation of two very different topics – traffic enforcement and the CSA. No need to get into discussion of confiscation as a well-known tactic to enrich both LE stats and budgets. No need to get into personal bias that affects everything from vendor relationships to county planning officials to LE. Traffic enforcement is notoriously capricious and arbitrary, and often used as a pretext to search vehicles and their occupant’s. If you don’t believe this premise, observe how many people are pulled from their vehicles for searches in affluent zip codes versus those in zips associated with higher (individual) crime rates. Finally, it shouldn’t be lost on readers that these occurred in states where cannabis isn’t legal, and therefor unsurprising that the ignorance of LE on the difference between hemp and THC cannabis is great.

    Reply
  5. Jeff on

    Regarding Patriot Shield in Pawhuska, OK; What were they doing in Oklahoma any way? If you look on the map, Louisville, CO is by Denver. The shortest route from Kentucky is IH 64 to IH 70 then west to Denver. Why did they go add over 100 miles on to the trip and go through Pawhuska? Seems strange to me, as a former long haul truck driver.

    Reply

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