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Prosecutor responds to petition to drop felony charges against hemp truckers

Idaho

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BOISE (Idaho Stateman) — A pair of Idaho lawmakers delivered a petition Tuesday with more than 13,000 signatures to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, urging prosecutors to drop the felony charges against three out-of-state truck drivers caught hauling hemp.

Idaho law doesn’t make a distinction between marijuana and hemp; anything that tests positive for the psychoactive drug THC is illegal. Hemp contains minuscule amounts of THC.

Prosecutors and Idaho State Police responded to the petition on Wednesday.

“Those who signed the petition that has recently circulated and citizens interested in the outcome of those recently publicized cases can be assured that we are listening and have heard your concerns,” the press release said.

However, prosecutors also said that they are “prohibited from negotiating a resolution of cases through the media, or with others who do not legally represent the parties.”

They also noted that the first case, involving two defendants, occurred over a year ago, before the passage of the federal farm bill that decriminalized industrial hemp nationwide.

“These two defendants are out of custody, represented by counsel and pending sentencing on reduced charges,” the press release said.

In early April of this year, Erich Eisenhart, 25, of Oregon, and Andrew D’Addario, 27, of Colorado, pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana with intent to deliver for transporting hemp into the state in April 2018. They face up to five years in prison when sentenced on June 25.

The other case is pending and “our ability to comment is limited,” prosecutors said.

Denis Palamarchuk, a Portland trucker driver, was charged with felony drug trafficking in late January of this year. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in 4th District Court in April, and a trial date has been set for Oct. 2.

Big Sky Scientific, the Colorado-based owner of the cargo that Palamarchuk was hauling, has sued Idaho State Police to get its property back. A federal judge refused to release the truck. But he did allow the release of the results of testing on the plants, confirming that it was hemp and not marijuana, as ISP had suspected.

The Idaho Legislature considered bills that would have legalized hemp, but none passed. One of those bills would have legalized transporting hemp through the state.

The farm bill requires all states to create hemp regulatory systems.

“We understand the desire to provide a legal pathway for an alternative crop for Idaho’s farmers and for those who transport it across state lines,” prosecutors said in the release. “We are currently conducting research and working to develop a solution. We continue to be committed, as we have been, to establishing a legal framework to provide a solution to this issue going forward. Those of us who enforce Idaho’s laws are bound by the laws which currently exist, not those which may exist at some future date.”

This article was originally published by the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.

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