A claim of $1 billion has been filed against Kern County by a hemp researcher for unauthorized eradication of 500 acres of hemp plants because the county sheriff’s office thought it was marijuana.
According to the images displayed online by local TV station KGET-TV, in their filed claim, Apothio LLC and Trent Jones, who is a former chiropractor, cited the California statutes which permit possession of hemp by researchers.
If the County denies the claim, there is a probability that the researchers will file a lawsuit against Kern County.
On Friday afternoon, requests for comments on the filed claim went unanswered by the officials from the County and the sheriff’s office. Jones and two of his local associates also did not offer any comments either.
In an interview with the Californian, Jones said that Apothio LLC contracted local hemp farmers to grow 500 acres of hemp near Arvin.
Jones also agreed that some of his hemp crops tested above the stipulated 0.3% THC levels. THC is the psychoactive compound of marijuana.
Jones further said that he planned to destroy the crop that tested above the stipulated limit. But, since he was in a research contract with Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest, legally, he was not allowed to test nor destroy the crop.
The federal regulations permit growers and companies working with an institution of higher education to possess hemp that tests above the legal limit, but they are not to sell or process it. This is a loophole in the federal rules and lawmakers should find a way of solving it.
On October 31,, the sheriff’s office in Kern County reported that it has destroyed more than 459 acres of hemp that was actually marijuana in the Arvin area. The crop was spread across 11 fields and contained about 10 million plants valued at more than $1 billion.
According to a KCSO press release, samples from the destroyed crop measured above the stipulated limit of 0.3%. Some sources said that the crop’s THC levels tested as high as 7%.
Jones’s former business associates filed a lawsuit against Apothio, accusing the company of cultivating hot hemp knowingly. In the suit, the business associate said that they obtained a sample crop for testing from the facility without permission, and the results showed the crop’s THC levels were above the federal limit. After confronting Apothio about the test results, the company locked them out of the facility.
In recent years hemp has become highly valued for the healing abilities of its CBD compound (cannabidiol).
In California, Kern County has the highest number of registered acres of hemp. However, the county AG commissioner has said that he will not issue additional hemp licenses for research until the legislators solve the research loophole, which allows growers and companies to possess hemp with THC above the federal limit.
One would be forgiven for thinking that hemp companies like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and HTC Extraction Systems (TSX.V: HTC) must be wondering what it will take for hemp industry players to stop suffering losses due to misunderstandings with law enforcement.
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