A driver hauling a load of industrial hemp stopped at a weight station in Idaho. But instead driving away after a standard inspection, his truck was seized. He was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges. Now his company is suing the state of Idaho.
According to Big Sky Scientific LLC, Dennis Palamarchuk was hauling legal industrial hemp to Colorado for processing. But Idaho State Police say that the load was actually 6,701 pounds of illegal marijuana.
Both hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family. But while marijuana can contain around 40% THC, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. In other words, it can’t get you high. And as of 2018’s farm bill, industrial hemp with less than .3% THC is perfectly legal according to federal law.
So, when Palamarchuk stopped at the East Boise Point of Entry weigh station on January 24th, he wasn’t worried. But according to a press release put out by the Idaho State Police, “the trooper’s training and experience made him suspicious that the cargo was in fact marijuana, not industrial hemp.”
A drug testing kit revealed that the load tested positive for THC. But according to Big Sky Scientific, the hemp from that particular farm was tested 19 times before the load was picked up, and came back with THC levels of .043% – well below the federal legal limit of .3%
Unfortunately for Palamarchuck, according to Idaho state law, a substance with any amount of THC in it is still illegal.
Palamarchuck was arrested and charged with felony trafficking of marijuana. If he’s found guilty, he will serve at least the mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and pay a minimum $15,000 fine.
Big Sky Scientific posted a $100,000 bail for Palamarchuck. The company is now suing Idaho to try and get the charges against him dropped and get their load of industrial hemp released. They are also asking for an admission of wrongdoing from the state.