While law enforcement aims to serve and protect, they’re having substantial difficulty telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. If it looks like marijuana and smells like marijuana, it must be marijuana, right? Production and interstate commerce of hemp and hemp-derived products have geometrically increased over the past 2 years. This is creating a confusing landscape for law enforcement officers near and far.
Imagine running a perfectly legal CBD store, working hard, paying your taxes, and in general being a responsible citizen. Now imagine that in spite of all of that, law enforcement seizes your merchandise, detains you, or even arrests you. The pretense? They say you’re selling marijuana. They say you’re breaking the law!
According to an article in AP News, Oren Levy, a CBD shop owner in New York, found himself in this very situation. The NYPD seized over 100 pounds of hemp that he purchased — Hemp that was supposed to go to his store.
On top of that, Oren’s brother was arrested when he arrived at the precinct to clear things up and reclaim the 100+ pounds of hemp. According to a NY Post article by Gabrielle Fonrouge and Priscilla DeGregory, this load of hemp is valued at over $30,000.00. Oren Levy is losing substantial money by the day while he waits to receive that shipment. He worries he may have to close the doors to his store if the issue isn’t resolved.
In another case, a driver transporting over 6,700 pounds of federally legal cannabis (hemp) was jailed and his shipment was seized! He was then released on a $100,000 bond, as Zuri Davis pointed out her reason.com article about the incident. The most shocking part of the story is that the arrest was made based on an Idaho State Trooper’s personal olfactory analysis. The driver had adequate documentation and lab tests for the shipment, but that information was not taken into consideration when the seizure and arrest were made.
The most widely known CBD-associated arrest was that of a grandmother at Disney World. Hester Burkhalter was carrying a bottle of CBD with her. She ended up being detained for over 12 hours by the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. during the fiasco as Carlos Miller reported in his Miami New Times op-ed on the situation.
The bottom line is that law enforcement agencies across the country are having to adapt their protocols to accommodate a different and completely legal type of cannabis: Hemp. Given the new landscape, a lot of departments are behind the curve and playing catch up. We hope to see few, if any, of these types of arrests and seizures in the coming years as clearer boundaries and testing for hemp and marijuana are established.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our latest article on the brand new regulations set in place by the USDA at our “Learn” page. We plan on keeping you all informed as new events unfold and new products are released, so stay tuned. We have several projects in the works right now!