Sentencing delayed for two hemp plant haulers in Idaho

June 25, 2019

Chuck Robinson

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Sentencing has been delayed for two men facing possible prison time for hauling a cargo of immature hemp plants across Idaho.

Andrew K. D’Addario and Erich C. Eisenhart were arrested April 12, 2018, for transporting 915 hemp plants from a licensed industrial hemp farm in Colorado to a licensed farm in Oregon. The men pleaded guilty on April 9 to felony possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 25. On the day before, however, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office and the defendants’ attorneys agreed to continue the sentencing hearing.

“As this court is well aware, although his case pre-dates the December 2018 farm bill, the parties recognize the outcome of this case will likely have an impact on how jurisdictions across Idaho will handle cases of this type given the current illegality of the interstate transport of hemp in Idaho,” reads the court document for the continuation.

“In the absence of Idaho legislation setting forth a regulatory system that would provide a legal framework to allow the interstate transport of hemp, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office has been diligently researching and working to develop a solution to avoid the recurrence of the issue facing law enforcement, prosecutors and those seeking to transport hemp in Idaho.”

In December, President Donald Trump signed into law the 2018 farm bill, which included several measures to foster production of hemp. A key provision was to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances, making a distinction between hemp and marijuana, which come from the same species of plant. Hemp has insufficient amounts of the psychoactive compound that gives people who ingest marijuana a euphoric high. Hemp can have no more than 0.3% of the compound, known as THC.

Idaho and other states have not changed their laws to accommodate the new hemp provisions in the farm bill. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is drafting a rule to address the issue, which is expected to take effect for the 2020 growing season.

USDA General Counsel Stephen Vaden weighed in on the issue with a May 28 memorandum. By his understanding, states may restrict or prohibit hemp production within their own borders but they cannot block hemp shipments through their jurisdictions.

D’Addario and Eisenhart were arrested well before the December farm bill legislation.

Another driver awaits a jury trial scheduled on Oct. 2 for hauling a cargo of hemp on an Idaho interstate highway. Denis Palamarchuk was arrested Jan. 24, for hauling a trailer loaded with 6,700 pounds of hemp for Big Sky Scientific, Boise, Idaho.

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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.

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