Idaho is anything but a cutting-edge state. When it comes to hemp, it’s simply a backward state.
Backward has turned vicious with the state trying to convict three men of a felony for trucking industrial hemp through Idaho.
All but nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. Idaho is the only Western state that has not.
The federal Farm Bill of 2018 removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and legalized cultivation, with restrictions. Hemp is used in a long list of consumer products.
Yet, instead of recognizing hemp’s utility, and acknowledging the changes put in place by the Farm Bill, Idaho is sticking to its misaimed legal guns. More than 13,000 Idahoans signed a petition calling on the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, which is pursuing the case, to stay the fire of those guns.
It wasn’t amused.
In response, the office’s attitude was that the law is the law, that it must be obeyed and violators prosecuted. The attitude forgets that the mission of the law enforcement and legal system is not only to apprehend and punish wrongdoers, and protect the public, but to seek justice.
Convicting the truckers of a felony, any felony for transporting hemp, is no laughing matter. The felony facing the truckers is possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. It comes with no minimum sentence.
It doesn’t matter. Felony convictions would be unjust. They would disqualify the truckers for many state licenses and many jobs. It may cost them their livelihoods, along with privileges of citizenship like voting. The convictions could ruin their lives.
The only thing the truckers erred in was their choice of route through a state that drags its legislative feet and fails to remove outdated or unjust laws from the books quickly.
Hemp isn’t a drug and shouldn’t be treated like one. Idaho’s farmer-legislators ought to give their city-based colleagues a lesson in agriculture and get the bad hemp law off the books.
Until then, the legal system needs to find a way to free the truckers from unjust prosecution.