It’s a head-scratcher fit to ponder over a bonghit. Police in Idaho seized nearly 7,000 pounds of a certain plant off a semi truck at a weigh station last month. State police say that plant is defined as marijuana because it tested positive for THC, which would make at an illegal controlled substance. However, the owners of the plant, the Colorado-based company Big Sky Scientific, says that it is actually hemp, which would make it a totally legal plant material.
Here’s the weird part: legally speaking, they might both actually be right.
Federal law defines hemp as a cannabis plant with less than .3% THC. Marijuana, on the other side of the coin, is defined as a cannabis plant with .3% THC or higher.
But, as reported by CNN, Idaho state law says that the definition of marijuana applies to “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis, regardless of species.” It also says that the presence of THC in a plant “shall create a presumption that such material is ‘marijuana’ as defined and prohibited herein.”
Therefore, the plant is, according to legal definitions, both hemp and marijuana.
This is not too good for the many of the parties involved. In particular, there’s the truck driver who was arrested during the seizure. Denis Palamarchuck was taken into custody for four days before posting a $100,000 pound. He seems to have fully believed that he was driving a legal load of hemp, but could face a minimum of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine if found guilty of felony drug possession.
There’s also Big Sky Scientific, who is suing the state of Idaho to try to get their hemp back. Big Sky says it legally purchased the plants from a licensed industrial hemp grower in Oregon. The company also claims that it ran multiple tests on the hemp which put it at .043% THC, safely within the legal range to call it hemp.
But, because Idaho law nearly requires the presence of THC to define a plant as marijuana, the cops didn’t even test for a percentage, only for whether it was positive or negative. The plants are currently being sent to an outside lab to test for their THC percentage.
Photo via Flickr user Dan Lynch