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Minnesota hemp delivery driver arrested for... delivering hemp

Hemp is totally legal in 47 states, but South Dakota isn't one of them.

Hemp is totally legal in 47 states, but South Dakota isn't one of them. Minnestota Department of Agriculture

Back in July, a truck driver from Minnesota was heading down a Jackson County, South Dakota interstate. The truck was going a little fast, so officers pulled it over. But to put an added wrinkle into things, they also discovered 300 pounds of Denver hemp in the back.

That shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. The driver, who was identified by KSFY News as Robert Herzberg, is a hemp delivery person. He was taking a shipment from Denver to a processor in Minnesota. The payload was non-intoxicating – the mild-mannered stuff of CBD tonics and tinctures. And it's totally legal… in Colorado, Minnesota, and 45 other states.

But not in South Dakota.

The officers arrested the driver and slapped on a charge for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, which could mean up to 20 years in prison. They also seized the hemp – which, according to the Minnesota Hemp Association, was worth nearly $23,000.

But the association’s arguing that it’s law enforcement, not the driver, that’s in the wrong. The source of its reasoning: the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the “Farm Bill.” A memo from the United States Department of Agriculture stressed that even though states could make their own laws regarding hemp, they couldn’t blockade any shipments passing through.

The driver has since been released, and the Minnesota processor has been on the hook for $36,000 in product loss and legal fees. Meanwhile, the association, which sent out a press release blasting South Dakota authorities on Monday, wants – nay, “expects” -- those charges to be dropped.

“What this situation highlights is the serious deficiency of consistent laws around hemp cultivation, transportation, processing, and selling,” Executive Director Joe Radinovich said in the release. 

According to the Argus Leader, South Dakota legislators met on Monday and called out state leaders for their “lack of research” on who’s allowed to have hemp and when. But the Star Tribune reports that there hasn’t been much word on the arrest from state authorities.