French law enforcement arrested a group of six men in the Nouvelle-Squitaine region of France after they spent two night stealing plants from an industrial hemp farm, The Connexion reports. The farm — located in Aillas, in the south of the Gironde department — reported that some 2,000 square feet of plants were stolen.
Prosecutors believe that the thieves thought they were stealing cannabis plants, not hemp. The thieves will be charged with aggravated theft and violence with a weapon after having fired a shotgun when they were discovered by farmhands on the second night of their operation. They were arrested the next day, and they will appear in court in November.
While cannabis remains illegal in France and the country established strict rules for CBD products in 2018, hemp grown for industrial purposes was never prohibited there. France, in fact, is the largest grower of industrial hemp in Europe. Hemp in France must contain less than 0.2% THC.
The confusion is not an uncommon occurrence — in the U.S., both thieves and law enforcement have regularly confused industrial hemp for THC-rich cannabis:
- In 2018, a Tennessee hemp farmer was involved in a car chase/shootout with a group of thieves who mistook his hemp crop for cannabis.
- In Texas, a hemp delivery truck driver was arrested and jailed for a month because police couldn’t tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.
- In May, an Oregon hemp farm sued two different sheriff’s offices after law enforcement wrongfully seized and destroyed a crop worth about $2 million.
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