Hemp-hauling driver pleads not guilty

June 2019

Chuck Robinson

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The Portland truck driver charged with drug trafficking for hauling hemp through Idaho is set to go to trial in early October.

Denis Palamarchuk, Portland Ore., pleaded not guilty on April 16 at his arraignment, according to a report from the Idaho Statesman.

A three-day trial is scheduled to start Oct. 2. A pretrial conference was set for Sept. 17.

Palamarchuk was arrested Jan. 24 during a routine inspection at the East Boise weigh station after officers found what they determined was marijuana on the truck. Police seized the more than 6,700 pounds of cargo and the semitrailer hauling it.

Palamarchuk was released from jail after posting $100,000 bond. If found guilty of marijuana trafficking, Palamarchuk could be sentenced to at least five years in prison and fined a minimum of $15,000.

The driver had a bill of lading identifying the cargo as hemp. It contains significantly lower levels of THC, a psychoactive drug, than marijuana, which is ingested for the euphoric high people experience from it.

The farm bill defines hemp as having 0.3% THC or less. The amount of THC in hemp is too small to give users a high.

Though the federal farm bill legalized hemp in December, it remains illegal in Idaho. The Idaho Legislature considered bills that would have legalized hemp, but none passed. One of those bills would have legalized hemp transport through the state.

The load is owned by Big Sky Scientific, Boise, Idaho. LL

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.