Law enforcement officers in Oklahoma jailed a truck crew and seized 9 tons of suspected marijuana earlier this month and even began prosecution before test results revealed it was what the drivers claimed — industrial hemp — according to a Tulsa World report.
The truck was searched during a traffic stop violation on January 9 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The truck was en route from Kentucky to a business in Colorado that had legally purchased the hemp, which was legalized across the U.S. via the 2018 farm bill’s passage. The truck drivers and the drivers of a follow van were jailed under drug trafficking charges. The truck contained more than 17,000 pounds of hemp.
Officials in Oklahoma claimed it was unclear that it wasn’t marijuana, even though James Baumgartner, president of the company purchasing the shipment, produced paperwork certifying that the shipment had been tested to contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
Lawyer for the accused Matt Lyons said that federal testing has now been completed on 11 separate samples taken from the shipment — all showing percentages at or just barely above 0.3 percent THC. All of which were below 1 percent THC however, which is the bar set federally for the difference between negligent and intentional violation of marijuana laws. “Negligent” or accidental transport of industrial hemp containing over 0.03 percent THC carries no penalty federally, though Oklahoma retains the right via state law to possibly fine the business transporting the product.
The Osage County, Oklahoma District Attorney was not satisfied, however, and ordered that the entire shipment now be tested. Strangely enough, the only place with capable testing facilities is where the shipment was headed in the first place — Colorado. Lyons questioned this decision: “Why is this [still] being criminally prosecuted? Is this because you made the mistake of prosecuting them before the tests were done?”
Drivers of the follow van have been able to post bail, but the truck drivers are still in jail in Oklahoma.