Legal Hemp Shipment Seized by the NYPD; Mistaken for Marijuana

Joe: 106.7 WIZN, it’s Jimi Hendrix in “Hey Joe.” Heard Foreigner in “Hot Blooded” before that. I’m Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday rock and ride home. You have Ben Barry on the phone here from Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti to talk about this sort of accidental marijuana seizure that happened in New York City. Ben, what’s up?

Ben: Joe, how are you doing?

Joe: So, Ben I know you know this story involves a hemp farmer here in Vermont that sent 106 pounds of hemp to a commercial customer in New York City. And that hemp was seized by the NYPD thinking that it was marijuana. So, I guess, my question is, the NYPD appears they have some egg on their faces, is that correct?

Ben: Yeah, I think so. This is a really unfortunate situation for the small local Vermont producer.

Joe: Right.

Ben: Because this probably ties up a lot. I think it’s, you know, important that when you’re shipping stuff that you receive the money for the thing that you’re shipping, and any time there’s an authoritative figure, like the NYPD who’s claiming that they made this bust after relentless efforts, which I think is hilarious, and also embarrassing because they were acting on a tip. They were able to get the FEDEX manifesto, they completely blew past the certifications that are required when you’re mailing hemp across state lines and just kind of chucked this up as huge win for their department. And it’s really unfortunate. I think this is a real failure on the part of the enforcement agencies. It highlights some of the issues that we’re going to have to deal with, and I think it’s really unfortunate because this loss is gonna be felt much more significantly on the shoulders of the small producers who are trying to be compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows for this sort of thing to go on. And, you know, they have a huge outlay with respect to the certification and the shipping and all of that stuff. And so, huge expense for the small farmer. Not a huge expense for the NYPD to do the due diligence that would be necessary to actually allow for the safe delivery of this product. And really kind of a brash, unfortunate thing.

Joe: Yeah, no. Does Fox Holler Farms, do you think they have a civil case?

Ben: Probably not. I think if they did it would be very difficult to prove.

Joe: Interesting.

Ben: Certainly, there are damages. Of course there’s gonna be damages if they have to delay in getting the money that they should be receiving for the product. But, again, the duty that is owed to the New York State Police is owed to the general public, and they have an interest, a vested interest, in preventing what could be schedule one drugs from being transported to interstate and within the state. And so, the police are going to be able to hide behind this larger governmental immunity that says, “Look, we have an interest in stopping what we reasonably believe to be drugs.” I think really where the rubber meets the road is they’re not going to stop a truck carrying a 100 pounds of flour, seize it, and claim that it’s cocaine. I think that’s really what they’ve done here. They’ve got two totally different products, hemp versus marijuana with THC, and they’re stopping it simply claiming without doing any testing or any due diligence to determine what the THC content is. And they’re just kind of being splashy in the news, and unfortunate for them, I think that it is pie in their eye. But I imagine if they’re not gonna release this product to the person who was anticipated to receive it, and I think that they’re just gonna wait until what should be public outcry settles down a little bit.

Joe: Wow, that is unfortunate. All right, thank you, Ben.

Ben: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: Ben Barry from Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti. And gain you can call them at any time on 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to Mel Allen, taking over from here. He has got music from “The Who” and “The Cars” next.