The NYPD 75th Precinct braged on Twitter on Tuesday about 106 pounds of cannabis it seized from a delivery “destined for our city streets.”
One problem: That “marijuana” turned out actually to be legally-grown hemp from licensed Vermont farmers, bound for a CBD store in Brooklyn.
The hemp contained no significant level of the THC component that gives cannabis its narcotic effects.
The tweet showed a photo of two officers surrounded by dozens of plant-filled bags displayed on several tables.
Officers Greenidge and Ganshaw from the @NYPD75Pct used precision policing and relentless follow-up, along with a great working relationship with @FedEx and other local law enforcement officials, to confiscate 106 pounds of marijuana that was destined for our city streets. pic.twitter.com/OnRyLsH90D— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 5, 2019
However, their bragging session was cut short when the farm that grew the confiscated product spoke out. Fox Holler Farms, located in New Haven, Vermont, published a Facebook post clarifying things.
Specifically, the farm made clear that the cops had not confiscated marijuana. Instead, the cops had stolen a huge shipment of fully legal hemp.
“We cannot believe this will be our first Facebook post,” the farm wrote. “We’ve been working hard all summer to grow a CBD compliant hemp crop. We succeeded too; Our crop was ‘Non detectable’ on delta 9 thc – compliant in Vermont, New York and federally . . . This shipment was 100% hemp. We shipped 106 lbs to our legitimate buyer and CBD-business owner in NYC and it was intercepted by the NYPD.”
The post continued: “This picture frustrates us and concerns us. Why are these officers showing off hemp as though it’s marijuana? Why are the not aware of the laws they are entrusted to protect?”
When the shop’s owner brother went to the police station to straighten things out, he was arrested. Police said a field test had come back positive for marijuana.
Shop owner Oren Levy said that’s likely because hemp often tests positive for a permissible, trace amount of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the chemical in cannabis that causes people to get high.
The farm’s lawyer, Timothy Fair, said that before the hemp shipment left Vermont, it was tested at FedEx’s request by a local police department. The level of THC was less than half the allowable threshold, he said.
Field tests used by law enforcement officers can detect THC but aren’t sophisticated enough to specify whether a shipment is legal hemp or low-grade illegal pot, and drug-sniffing dogs will alert on both.
“He was a hungry cop. He thought he had the bust of the day,” said Levy, whose Green Angel CBD NYC sells oils, teas and other products containing the extract. He said he fears the seizure could force him out of business.
The CBD shop responded to the tweet on Instagram, citing the paperwork for the hemp was accounted for with the shipment.
“This was our shipment. My brother was falsely arrested. Those bags were all hemp,” posted GreenAngelCBD. “All documents were in each box. The farm also called them to give them all there (sic) paperwork proving it’s all hemp! Please spread the word! We need to let people know we are not criminals!”
They claim that shipments have been seized before documentation would clear things up. All 106 pounds of the product is now sitting in an NYPD warehouse.
Even though the city has taken steps to decriminalize weed, NYPD cops continue to harrass and arrest people of color for weed-related offenses.
This pattern has been confirmed as recently as July 2018. That month, NYPD watchdog group Police Reform Organization Project released a study on NYPD policing practices. One of the most alarming findings showed that 93 percent of weed arrests involved people of color.
From the looks of things, NYPD still does not know the difference between cannabis and hemp. Similarly, it appears that NYPD also does not know that hemp plants are no longer illegal.
At this point, it’s unclear what will happen with the stolen hemp. It’s also unclear what is happening to the person NYPD claimed was arrested for being involved in this legal shipment of hemp.
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