Company sues Idaho patrol over hemp and seizure of truck
February 5, 2019
The arrest of a trucker hauling a load of hemp has sparked a lawsuit between the company that owned the hemp and the Idaho State Police.
It began Jan. 24, when Dennis Palarmarchuk, 36, a trucker from Portland, Ore., was arrested during a routine inspection after officers found what they claim was 7,000 pounds of marijuana on his truck.
According to court documents filed by Big Sky Scientific, the Boise, Idaho-based company that owned the load, it was hemp – and even said so on the bill of lading. But tests on the scene – along with the nose of a police dog – convinced the officers otherwise. Palamarchuk was arrested and charged with a felony. He is currently out on bail.
Hemp is defined as the fiber of the cannabis plant and is used in rope, fabrics and paper. Marijuana is the flower buds and leaves of the plant that contain significantly higher levels of THC.
Elijah Watkins of the law firm Stoel Rives in Boise, Idaho, is the lead attorney for Big Sky. He says the fault lies with the testing methods they used and the changing federal definition of what qualifies as marijuana as opposed to hemp.
“The officer has a field test, and he did a field test,” Watkins said. “My understanding is the field test that Idaho officers, and I think most officers of the country, that field test shows is whether or not the thing that they are testing has traces of THC in it.
“And this of course had traces of THC in it can cause it’s hemp and hemp has THC in it just like marijuana does. But it has it at such a low level that the federal government has determined that that is a different thing. Hemp is not marijuana.
Watkins doesn’t blame the officers for what happened. In fact, he even sympathizes with the officers’ situation.
“We get it. He has a tough job trying to determine what this is while he standing on the side of a highway. He saw that it had THC in it and so therefore (used) the term ‘with marijuana’ without actually testing to see what the level of THC was, which makes all the difference in the world,” Watkins said.
Watkins says the court has denied a motion for emergency relief. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.
(Editor’s note: Terry Scruton will have more on this story following Friday’s court hearing on a future Land Line Now, airing at 6 p.m. CST on Sirius XM Road Dog Channel 146.)