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Federal judge won't order return of disputed hemp plants for now

Idaho State Police contend the plants are marijuana and the driver of the truck has been arrested.
Credit: Idaho State Police
Photo of the hemp seized by Idaho State Police during a traffic stop in January, 2019.

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge has declined to order the release of more than 6,700 pounds of plants that an Oregon company says is hemp but the Idaho State Police claims is marijuana.

The plants — and a semitrailer that contained them — were seized by the Idaho State Police last month near Boise. Idaho State Police said the truck contained a "green, leafy substance" containing THC and said they believed it to be the largest marijuana bust in the agency's known history.

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But the driver's employer, the Portland, Oregon-based Big Sky Scientific LLC, sued the state and said the plants were hemp and legal under the 2018 federal Farm Bill. The company asked Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush to order the state to release the plants, which the company says are deteriorating and losing value.

But Bush said in his ruling that he's not yet convinced the plants were produced in accordance with the federal law and so he can't order it returned at this point in the lawsuit.

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