USDA sides with hemp company in transportation dispute

A Colorado hemp company seeking the release of plants seized earlier this year in Idaho won a powerful ally when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the hemp should not have been taken.

The agency said in a nonbinding legal opinion that hemp transportation was guaranteed last December when the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, even though the USDA hasn’t yet made rules about growing the plant.

In January, Idaho authorities seized roughly 7,000 pounds of hemp headed from Oregon to Big Sky Scientific, a CBD manufacturer in Aurora, Colorado.

Big Sky sued, but an Idaho judge ruled that because the plants were grown before Oregon’s hemp regulations won USDA approval – a requirement of the 2018 Farm Bill – they were not protected.

Big Sky is appealing the case.

The USDA’s lawyers sided with Big Sky, saying that states “may not prohibit the interstate transportation or shipment of hemp lawfully produced under the 2014 Farm Bill.”

However, the federal agency is not seeking to have its opinion filed with the federal appeals court hearing the matter.

No date has been set for the appeal.

Three men were charged in the Big Sky hemp seizure. Two of them pleaded guilty to felonies; a third has pleaded not guilty and could face five years in prison if convicted.