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article imageIdaho lawmakers OK funds for state police hemp-testing equipment

By Karen Graham     Mar 2, 2019 in Politics
Idaho State Police may get the funding to purchase equipment that would allow investigators to distinguish hemp from marijuana after a high-profile case in the state grabbed headlines and prompted a federal lawsuit.
Idaho State Police may get their testing equipment after the state legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Friday approved about $240,000 for three testing devices for crime labs in the cities of Meridian, Pocatello and Coeur d’Alene, reports the Associated Press.
“This is in response to what we can see coming,” said state Sen. Abby Lee, a Republican. “They need these tools, and they need them this year. If they have an arrest, they can’t wait to send those results out to Kentucky.”
It is legal to cultivate hemp in the U.S.
The passage and signing of the 2018 Farm Bill changed federal policy regarding industrial hemp, including the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and the consideration of hemp as an agricultural product.
Ten states do not allow the production of hemp.
Ten states do not allow the production of hemp.
National Conference of State Legislatures
The bill also allows states and tribes to submit a plan and apply for primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp in their state or in their tribal territory. State plans must include regulations on keeping track of land, testing methods, and disposal of plants or products that exceed the allowed THC concentration.
To date, 40 states have enacted regulations to address various policy issues, including certification of seeds, licensure of growers, and regulations on cultivation. However, it may be that local and state law enforcement agencies don’t understand that interstate commerce of hemp is legal now.
Why are some hemp growers in legal trouble?
It seems that some hemp growers are facing legal fees and even jail time for hauling hemp across state lines. There have been large seizures, we are talking about tractor-trailer loads, in Idaho and Oklahoma. This has raised questions over how state and local law enforcement officials are supposed to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
Even the fibers of the hemp plant are useful.
Even the fibers of the hemp plant are useful.
Four men working for Patriot Shield National Transport, a hemp transportation company, were stopped in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, for running a red light. They were carrying 18,000 pounds of Kentucky cannabis destined for Panacea Life Sciences, a CBD manufacturer in Louisville, Colorado.
All four were charged with drug crimes and jailed. The men said they were hauling hemp, said Tyler Dickinson, co-owner of Patriot Shield. “We told them, ‘We’re hauling hemp, and here’s our paperwork.’ It was all there, certified by the state of Kentucky.”
In late January, Idaho State Police seized a semitrailer filled with 6,700 pounds of a green, leafy substance that a trooper believed was marijuana. Again, the driver of the truck and the owner insisted the cargo was legal hemp bound from Oregon to Colorado.
The truck driver was charged with marijuana trafficking, which carries a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence in Idaho. Testing done at an Idaho port of entry determined THC was present, but not the amount. In this case and the Oklahoma case, the states are being sued in federal court over the matter.
Stores have sprouted up across France selling products containing cannabidiol  or CBD  a compound us...
Stores have sprouted up across France selling products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound used for medical marijuana treatments
CBD industry wonders if it can trust the Farm Bill
The Farm Bill specifically states that “no state or Indian tribe shall prohibit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products.” But the two cases have CBD companies wondering just how much faith they can put in the legality of hemp under the Farm Bill.
One thing mentioned by a Big Sky official was the disruption of the supply chain for new businesses when their cargo was seized. Elijah Watkins, Big Sky’s lawyer, told Hemp Industry Daily, “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 said their business has gone "ice-cold" while everyone is awaiting the outcome of the federal lawsuit in Oklahoma. Other CBD producers are sticking within state borders to guard against improper police seizures, buying from only local producers.
The two lawsuits will determine the future of hemp production and the legality of shipping the plant across state lines, something that is legal, according to the federal government. So we will have to follow these cases to see how they turn out.
More about Idaho, Hemp, Marijuana, testing equipment, interstate commerce
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