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Is It Legal to Transport Hemp in the US?

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Hemp might have been made federally legal last year after the signing of the 2018 US Farm Bill, but it remains illegal in some other states, such as in Idaho. This legal scheme has brought confusion to hemp producers and has made transporting hemp difficult across the country. One example is the case of an Oregon truck driver who was apprehended after transporting more than 6,000 pounds of hemp while passing through Idaho. The legal case is said to be the first of its kind ever since the new legislation of industrial hemp was passed.

Hemp Shipment Seized

The legal fight started around late January when the state police of Idaho detected a strong smell from the truck during a roadside inspection at a highway near Boise. They thought it to be marijuana, which is why they arrested the driver and seized the cargo, which was owned by Big Sky Scientific. The 36-year old driver who was from Portland was arrested and charged with marijuana trafficking.

The truckload of hemp was tested and lab tests showed that it was indeed industrial hemp, which should now be legal after President Trump signed the 2018 Federal Farm Bill in December. Yet despite this, Idaho still considers hemp illegal, just like other conservative states.

Hemp’s Checkered History

Humans have been using hemp for many years and for different purposes. It’s been made into food, fiber, and fuel for thousands of years. However, since it’s closely related to cannabis, which is known to alter the feelings of wellbeing, hemp was declared federally illegal in the 1930s.

But this was changed last year, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill has allowed farmers to grow hemp legally not only for use as rope but also for supplements and medications such as hemp oil. Recently, hemp emerged as the biggest source of CBD, the compound that’s capable of treating a wide range of illnesses, including inflammation and seizures.

But despite the lifting of the federal prohibition, the confusion behind the legal status of hemp is still apparent, especially in transportation across the country.

Hemp is Illegal in Idaho

Big Sky Scientific has paid for the bail of the driver $100,000 and in the previous month, the company filed a lawsuit asking for the hemp product to be returned. But the prosecutors declined such request, which was also agreed by the federal judge.

Although the 2018 Federal Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, the states, as well as the Indian tribes, may still declare hemp to be a controlled substance under the tribal law or state law. In the case of Idaho, the state considers industrial hemp to be similar to marijuana and both substances are illegal under the laws of the state. However, the 9th Circuit has agreed to listen to the arguments of both sides in the case, which might take place as early as April.

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