Lawsuit Filed Over U.S. Hemp Crop Destruction

Hemp crop destruction
Image: Kern County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

In another chapter of an ongoing saga, a Colorado-based hemp grower is suing the Kern County (California) sheriff’s office and others over what it says was illegal destruction of its hemp crop.

In November last year, we reported Kern County Sheriff’s Office claimed to have destroyed 10 million “marijuana” plants with a black market value it put at $1 billion. In the USA, hemp with a THC level of over 0.3% is generally legally considered marijuana; even if the levels approach nowhere near what they need to be to have any recreational value. However, there are apparently some exceptions to this rule.

Following this exercise, the owner of the crop was revealed to be Apothio LLC – and they were not happy, apparently commencing legal action.

Last week, a suit was filed by Counsel for Apothio LLC in the United States District Court Eastern District of California.

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The lawsuit doesn’t pull any punches, claiming:

“This case arises out of one the largest wholesale destructions of personal property by government entities in the history of the United States”.

Counsel reiterates that Apothio is an established agricultural research institution (EARI) legally authorized to research and commercialize hemp under both federal and state law – and “is expressly permitted to grow and possess plants
that contain more than 0.3% THC and is also exempt from certain testing requirements applicable to other hemp growers.”

Apothio’s lawyers also put the market value of the hemp and hemp derivatives destroyed at approximately $1 billion.

The seeds associated with the bulldozed crop have germinated and Apothio fears this new generation of plants will meet the same fate as the previous crop.

The lawsuit is seeking general, compensatory, special, exemplary and punitive damages; legal costs, recognition of the Apothio’s EARI status and an injunction against the defendants further violations of Apothio’s rights and destruction of its property. Apothio has demanded a trial by jury of all issues.

The 58-page complaint can be viewed here (hat-tip to Hemp Industry Daily).

This case will no doubt be closely watched by the USA’s hemp industry for its wider ramifications.