The Growing Pains of Hemp Farmers: A tale of two tweets

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“Precision policing”?

The problem with the tweet on the left (since deleted) is the NYPD got it wrong – that’s a pile of hemp, not marijuana. And hemp, the crop we get our CBD from, is legal in the state of New York and has been legal federally since the passage of the Farm Bill in December 2018.

Nevertheless, they busted one Ronen Levy when he went to pick up the hemp, and the Brooklyn DA’s office have him up on 6 marijuana-related felony charges with a pending court date way down the road, May 29, 2020.

Mr. Levy’s facing prison solely because of a failed drug test: the NYPD tested the hemp for the presence of THC and sure enough it came back positive – hence it’s “marijuana” not “hemp,” and since the former is still illegal in the state of NY, Mr. Levy’s being prosecuted.

But here’s the thing: The police test only detects the presence of THC, not any specific amount. It’s as if an alcohol breathalyzer test detected the presence of alcohol in your body, amount unknown, yet they charge you for driving over the legal limit of .08.

Just like with the legal driving limit, hemp has a legal THC limit – 0.3% or less is permitted. And that’s what the police drug test picked up – a legally allowable amount.

How do we know? Because the hemp batch was lab tested for its THC content and it registered 0.06%, a measly 1/5th of the legal limit. What’s more (1) the hemp was packaged with the lab report numbers and a certificate saying it came from a registered hemp grower in Vermont, and (2) Vermont police saw the paperwork certifying the legality of the hemp and – oh boy – told this to the Brooklyn DA’s office, who nonetheless insist they won’t be satisfied until they run their own test. Which for some reason will take 6 more months of Mr. Levy’s life to complete.

Meanwhile, people are hurting: An innocent man is facing prison; a reputable grower is afraid to ship to NY for fear of reoccurrence; the NY hemp buyer (Levy’s brother) is out the $17,500 he paid for the hemp and can’t afford to buy any more; the hemp itself will likely spoil while in police custody; and his business is dying as suppliers & customers are steering clear of him because of his tangle with the law.

Unfortunately, this lack of common sense and fair play by the police and the DA’s office is not confined to New York. As the AP reported last month, citing arrests of 2 truckers carrying legal loads of hemp, similar cases are occurring across the country.

Which leaves us with the remedy that even Senator Mitch McConnell is calling for: use a field test that distinguishes hemp from marijuana.

In other words, police people, try doing what you say you do – use precision policing.

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