An interesting report – are we going to see a lot more of this ? How will states deal with police depts? They could end up with expensive lawsuits if they aren’t careful
The 17,258 pounds of plant material seized by Pawhuska police this week was industrial hemp, a product that’s legal to possess or transport nationwide, according to documentation from the purchaser and an attorney involved in the case.
Hemp and marijuana are products of the cannabis plant, but the former contains none of the intoxicating chemical compounds of marijuana and has been made legal in the U.S.
Pawhuska police seized the shipment Wednesday morning while it was en route to a Colorado business and jailed the occupants of the truck and a van accompanying the shipment on complaints of trafficking marijuana in excess of 1,000 pounds, according to jail records.
Pawhuska police did not respond to multiple requests for comment since the arrests and seizure.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control was called to the traffic stop Wednesday, but the Pawhuska Police Department is the lead agency in the investigation.
“We don’t know if it is marijuana. We don’t know if it is hemp,” Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the OBNDD, said Wednesday.
The difference between the two can be apparent from visual inspection for those who know what they’re looking for, but only a chemical test can determine for certain whether cannabis plant material has a low enough threshold to qualify as hemp. Authorities in Oklahoma had taken the material for testing, but results were not available Friday.
James Baumgartner, president of the Colorado-based purchaser of the shipment, provided documentation showing the majority of the plant material tested at or below the federal threshold of three-tenths of 1 percent THC content for hemp. Cannabis that becomes medical and recreational marijuana, by contrast, typically has THC contents around 15 percent to 20 percent.
Baumgartner said Panacea Life Sciences ordered the shipment of hemp from Kentucky because the company’s needs were beyond what the 2018 hemp harvest in Colorado could support.
“Kentucky does a better job than just about every other state,” Baumgartner said. “What the state does is take very good control over the farming element. They quarantine it; they test it; and they certify it before they will let it be sold commercially.”
Baumgartner said a Pawhuska Police Department representative yelled at and hung up on one of his employees who called seeking information.
Osage County prosecutors said Thursday they had yet to receive an investigative report from Pawhuska police.
Pawhuska police reportedly stopped the truck in the city for failure to stop at a traffic control signal. Tadesse Degefu Deneke, 51, of Mobile, Alabama; Andrew Ross, 29, of Aurora, Colorado; David Melvin Dirksen, 31, of Comstock Park, Michigan; and Farah Warsame, 33, of Cleveland, Ohio, were arrested on trafficking complaints, according to jail records. They are scheduled for a court appearance at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Osage County District Court.
At issue is the THC content of the plants in the shipment, said Colorado attorney Mark Robison, who represents one of the involved entities. He said officers believed the seized material to be marijuana because of a field test.