Hemp-hauling driver pleads not guilty, gets October court date

April 17, 2019

Chuck Robinson


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 Tuesday morning 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.

Palarmarchuk 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.

Palarmarchuk was released from jail after posting $100,000 bond. According the Idaho Statesman, Palamarchuk needed a Russian translator to understand the proceedings. 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. They have submitted test results to authorities showing the cargo was hemp. The semi is owned by third-party trucking company VIP Transporter LLC, Portland, Ore.

Palamarchuk’s load was the third hemp haul for VIP Transporter since the farm bill passed, company owner Ivan Pavliy told the Idaho State Journal.

Big Sky Scientific has sued the Idaho State Police to recover its cargo or be compensated for it. A federal judge in February denied a request by Big Sky to release the perishable cargo.

While hemp is not considered potent enough to get someone high, CNN reports that industrial hemp is used to produce cannabidiol, or CBD, a nonpsychoactive derivative. It is a health supplement that can give a relaxing effect without the high associated with marijuana.

CNN reports Big Sky Scientific bought about 13,000 pounds of industrial hemp from Boones Ferry Berry Farms in Hubbard, Ore., for making CBD.


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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.