Ada prosecutors, state police, defend arrest, prosecution of truckers moving hemp
BOISE — The Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Idaho State Police are standing by the arrest and prosecution of three out-of-state truckers who were transporting industrial hemp through Idaho.
The agencies issued a joint statement Wednesday in response to a petition — which received more than 13,000 signatures — imploring Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts to drop charges against Andrew D’Addario, 27, Erich Eisenhart, 25, and Denis Palamarchuk, 36. Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, and Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, delivered that petition to Bennetts’ office in person Tuesday afternoon.
Although it is considered legal by almost every other state, hemp remains illegal in Idaho.
“Those of us who enforce Idaho’s laws are bound by the laws which currently exist, not those which may exist at some future date,” according to the statement.
D’Addario and Eisenhart were arrested in April 2018, carrying a shipment of industrial hemp to Oregon from Colorado. Initially, they faced a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for a drug trafficking charge; they pleaded down to a lesser felony — possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver — that doesn’t have a mandatory minimum. They are set to be sentenced in June.
Although hemp was legal in Colorado and Oregon, any substance containing any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol — as hemp does, in trace amounts — is still considered marijuana under Idaho law.
This is why the Idaho State Police arrested Palamarchuk in January when he declared his shipment of hemp — more than 6,700 pounds of it — at a port of entry in Ada County. He still faces a trafficking charge, and has a court date set for September.
Both agencies stood by their decision to arrest and prosecute him Wednesday, regardless of President Trump’s signing of the 2018 Farm Bill in December. The bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the controlled substances list, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“The 2018 Farm Bill’s intent of allowing the interstate transportation of hemp will only be realized once there is a regulatory system in place,” the police and prosecutor’s statement reads. “As of this date, that system has not been developed in any state — including Idaho — and is therefore not currently in effect. As a consequence, hemp is not legal in Idaho.”
Still, according to the statement, the agencies are looking for a solution to future cases.
“We understand the desire to provide a legal pathway for an alternative crop for Idaho’s farmers and for those who transport it across state lines,” the news release reads. “We are currently conducting research and working to develop a solution. We continue to be committed, as we have been, to establishing a legal framework to provide a solution to this issue going forward.”