South Dakota Arrests Driver Transporting LEGAL Hemp.
by Dan Larkin.
South Dakota arrested and has charged a driver who was transporting LEGAL hemp to Minnesota for processing. That’s right. He was arrested for marijuana possession with the intent to distribute. That’s despite the fact that US federal law has made it legal to do just that. (Transport hemp.)
It’s one of the weird cases that is the reverse problem between states’ rights and federal law. Normally, we’re talking about the federal government declaring cannabis illegal while states are declaring it legal. This time, the state of South Dakota is saying hemp is illegal. Meanwhile, the federal government (through the 2018 Farm Act) has said it’s legal.
What happened in South Dakota?
So, here’s what happened. Bob Herzog is a 41-year-old Colorado man. He was hired to deliver 300 lbs of legal, lab-tested hemp to Minnesota. He loaded it into the trunk of a rental car in and headed for Minnesota via South Dakota.
Herzog was pulled over by a South Dakota State Patrol officer for speeding on July 16th. The officer detected what he said was the “smell of marijuana”. The official complaint states that Herzog “appeared nervous” and kept explaining he was hauling hemp, not drug marijuana. (NOTE: Is there anyone who wouldn’t be nervous in this situation?)
Guess what? Herzog could be sentenced to 15 years in prison, $30,000 in fines, or both. Seriously. That’s despite USDA guidelines that indicated drivers transporting hemp shouldn’t be subject to charges.
Isn’t hemp legal in the US?
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was legalized at the federal level and terms were set for its growth, transport, and sale. Hemp and cannabis are in the same family. Industrial hemp plants can’t contain more than 0.3% THC, under federal law.
A USDA memo clarifies that states, Native American tribes, and other sovereign nations have the right to bypass legalizing hemp. But, they can’t block the transportation of hemp through a state or tribal territory.
A note about the hemp arrest and the driver.
It’s important to note at this point, that Herzog had what “appeared to be marijuana” in the car console, near a “half-smoked cigarette”. Why is this important? Well, a urine test showed Herzog tested positive for cocaine and marijuana in his system.
Obviously, this didn’t help his case, but it is also a separate issue. We can all agree that if he was driving under the influence of cocaine and cannabis then that’s not smart. We, as an industry, need to be thinking about how that action can impact public perception of the industry as a whole. But that may be a larger conversation for another story on another day.
What’s the deal with South Dakota and hemp?
So, what is the deal with South Dakota? How can they be so far behind the times? Well, Governor Kristi Noem (R) vetoed a bill this year that would have legalized industrial hemp. Her Secretary of Public Safety- Craig Price had this to say:
“There are too many questions surrounding this issue that should cause us to just pause, wait for further guidance and learn from the experience of other states. I certainly don’t want to do anything that would further increase the threat to our next generation of kids.”Craig Price-South Dakota Secretary of Public Safety
The hemp arrest’s impact on Minnesota.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the company waiting to process the hemp is out more than $36,000 for the seized hemp and legal fees, The estimated value of that hemp after processing is $100,000, according to Minnesota Hemp Association Executive Director Joe Radinovich.
“A Minnesota Hemp Association member expected a shipment of legally grown hemp. Instead the driver was arrested, and the hemp confiscated in a state that isn’t complying with the [federal] farm bill and allowing hemp to be transported.”Joe Radinovich-Executive Director of the Minnesota Hemp Association
The Minnesota Hemp Association expects charges to be dropped. I hope they’re right. Now, let’s all keep thinking of what we can do to continue to educate the uninformed. How we can normalize cannabis? How we can remove the stigmas attached to it. I know it is a slow process but education and awareness can help move the needle.
Read more CannabisIRL articles about hemp here.
Original reporting from hibbingmn.com here.