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Truck drivers sentenced for transporting hemp through Idaho

All three men were given jail time, but the sentences were suspended with time served.
Credit: Idaho State Police
Photo of the hemp seized by Idaho State Police during a traffic stop in January, 2019.

BOISE, Idaho — Three out-of-state truck drivers who were arrested for transporting industrial hemp through Idaho were sentenced Thursday on misdemeanor charges.

All three men were given jail time, but the sentences were suspended with time served. Each will remain on unsupervised probation and have to pay fees and restitution.

The truckers each faced felony charges at the time of their arrests, but struck plea deals with prosecutors earlier this month that lowered the charges to misdemeanors.

Two of the truckers, Andrew D’Addario and Erich Eisenhart were arrested in April 2018 while transporting 915 hemp plants from Colorado to Oregon.

Eisenhart and D'Addario were initially charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. They pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. On Thursday, they were sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 178 days suspended. They were given credit for the two days they already served in the Ada County Jail. Both men will serve two years of unsupervised probation and will pay more than $5,000 is fees and restitution.

A trucker in another case, Denis Palamarchuk, was arrested in January while transporting about 6,700 pounds of hemp from Oregon to Colorado on behalf of a Colorado-based company. He was arrested by Idaho State Police during a stop at an Ada County port of entry. Prosecutors charged him with drug trafficking in marijuana, and he faced a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if convicted.

RELATED: Hemp company offers to drop lawsuit if Idaho returns hemp, allow interstate commerce

Under the agreement made with prosecutors earlier this month, Palamarchuk pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of trucking an improperly permitted load including a faulty bill of loading. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 175 days suspended. He was given credit for five days already served. Palamarchuk will spend one year on unsupervised probation and pay a total of about $3,000 in fees and restitution.

Each of the truck drivers could have faced years in prison on their initial charges. Hemp and any other cannabis plants containing THC remain illegal in Idaho, despite the 2018 Farm Bill’s changes to the federal schedule of controlled substances.

Ada County prosecutors noted all three men believed the hemp was legal to transport through Idaho, and their employers told them such. Also, prosecutors said there was a considerable amount of misinformation being circulated in the national media surrounding the provisions of 2018 Farm Bill.

For those reasons, prosecutors cut the agreements they did.

RELATED: 9th Circuit Court declines to weigh in on Idaho's hemp debate - for now

RELATED: 'An embarrassment to the State of Idaho:' Petition calls for charges to be dropped against hemp truckers