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Charges against truckers hauling hemp “absolutely horrific”


Pressure is mounting to drop charges against three truckers accused of illegally hauling hemp across Idaho.

“It’s absolutely horrific,” said Idaho Representative Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), a legislator who is working to get the charges dropped.

“It’s like a nightmare out of a novel,” she said. “These are hardworking people working for a trucking company. This is what they do for a living – take this load from here to there. This is a good that has been legalized federally. They are doing what their boss told them to do.”

“For doing their job, they are threatened with five years in prison.”

The Ada County Idaho Prosecutor’s Office has charged Andrew D’Addario, Erich Eisenhart and Denis Palamarchuk for illegally driving hemp into Idaho. D’Addario and Eisenhart transported the cannabis product before it became legal at the federal level last year. Palamarchuk was arrested separately for transporting the material across the Oregon-Idaho border – after the federal law had passed.

Idaho does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. State law defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis, regardless of species.” The law states that any “evidence” of THC “shall create a presumption that such material is ‘marijuana’ as defined and prohibited herein.”

Legislators considered several bills during the recent legislative session to legalize hemp in Idaho. None of them passed, and transportation of hemp is still illegal.

Eisenhart and D’Addario are set for sentencing on June 25 and could face up to five years in prison. Palamarchuk is scheduled to go to trial in October.

As of Thursday morning, 9,455 people had signed an online petition calling on the county prosecutor, Jan M. Bennetts, to drop charges against the truckers.

In an ironic twist, the Idaho State Police in February shipped samples of the product confiscated from Palamarchuk’s truck to Kentucky, where it was tested for THC, the chemical found in high concentrations in marijuana – but not in hemp.

The testing bore out claims issued by the shipper that the 6,700 pounds of product in Palamarchuk’s truck was hemp, not marijuana. The irony resides in the fact that law enforcement officials shipped a cannabis product across state lines.

“With all the federal eyes looking at the Idaho case, what’s interesting is that the state shipped product to Kentucky to be tested,” observed Beau Whitney, a senior economist with New Frontier Data, a cannabis intelligence firm.  “I don’t know how they got it there, but I found it really fascinating.”

Tim Marsano, a spokesperson for the Idaho State Police, said while the department won’t comment on the ongoing investigation, “I will tell you that items that enter our evidence chain of custody can be legally shipped across state borders for laboratory testing.”

The Ada County prosecutor’s office does not comment on pending litigation, a spokesperson told FreightWaves.

Initially, Idaho police declined to release results of the THC testing, Representative Rubel noted.

“They were doing a victory lap off of this guy [Palmarchuk], who had voluntarily presented his bill of lading, pitching it as ‘the state’s biggest drug bust,’” she said.

Only after a court order did they release the results of the test showing the product was indeed hemp.

In Idaho, that isn’t enough to get the charges dropped.

“There is a tight window of time right now to save these guys,” Representative Rubel said. “Once that sentencing happens there is no option to get these guys on their way in life without a criminal record.”

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

74 Comments

  1. Total bull!! They would send these hard working men/truckers to prison on a technicality??!!

    These punks (the state) need to consider how they would look at this if these men were there grown kids.

    What a damn shame that the governor or someone won’t step in and say, ‘This is not happening!!’

    Th ooooih s is NOT what the law was meant to do!!

      1. Idaho just released an illegal immigrant from jail then blocked ICE from deporting the guy. His crime? He had sex with his girlfriends dog, so violently that the dog died. Sentence – 65 days, time served. Thanks for all you do for America, Idaho. Y’all have the IQ of one of your potatoes.

    1. Mormans run the state… with religious Zealots in charge…..WHAT could go wrong? AMERICAN TALIBAN!!

        1. Again BuckeyeinAB … you are wrong … Idaho sometimes referred to as North Utah. High Mormon content.

  2. Well it should be the bosses that get jailed for it ..its those idiots that load the stuff on these trucks..and hide it..not the government..

    1. They where not trying to hide it, it was industrial hemp used to make rope or cloth which is legal under federal law. the article even states their shipping papers indicated it was industrial hemp but it still contains trace amounts of thc which is where the technicality is that state law prohibits any amount of thc even at levels that can’t get a person high.

  3. What a load of BS what they are trying to pull on the driver’s 1st of all hamp is not a drug it’s a natural weed plant that will not get you high they are comparing marijuana to hamp they are in the same family but they are comparing Apples to oranges marijuana has THC the hemp plant does not

  4. SAD BUT IT’S NOT EVEN BEGING YET LOOP HOLE ALL STATE WILL NEED TO ADDRESS THE LAW CANNOT PASSED A LAW AND THEN PUT THE LAW TO PRISON CRAZY

  5. When asked by anyone what you’re hauling you’re supposed to say “the bill of lading says” other wise it makes you the smuggler because you said something to the effect of “I’m Hauling”. Personally, I’m done with trucking because of things like this and a slew of other things. Screw every single company, the dot, and especially fmcsa. They can all shove it where the sun doesn’t shine being they’re all equally scum and have little more than dog excrement between their ears.

    1. James would know too. He’s worked for almost all of them. RBX, Mar Jac, Buffalo Rock, Midwest Transport, CRST, Coast To Coast, Church Transportation, Triple C, Garner and Gibson, Koch & Sons, Fiber Logistics, Celadon, McCormick, Tyson… and thats just in the last couple years that I know about!

  6. Wow unbelievable, well I hope the state of Idaho is proud of themselves. They are hurting themselves selves because myself and my family live in Utah pay alot for out of state fishing licenses won’t t be doing that anymore.

  7. Most drivers have only their paperwork to tell them what they are hauling. The trailers are sealed by the shipper, they put their company seal on it too to show they have the trailer( not that they know what is inside of the trailer), connect to the their tractor to the trailer, and they are off on their dispatched load. It’s stupid to hold them responsible.

    1. That’s incorrect. Even pre sealed trailers and the manifest list what your hauling. If its coded, then you ask. Pretty simple

  8. Just another reason why I left trucking and will never be doing it again. I don’t recommend others get into it either. Now they wanting to put them in prison! Make sure that drivers can’t even see their families even the 3 days a month! A bad bad industry and people treat you like scum no respect whatsoever.

    1. We have no respect BECAUSE OF THE SCUM IN THE INDUSTRY TODAY!! If you can count high enough, try keeping track of how many piss bottles and bags of garbage, you see on the ground everyday!!

      1. Thank those fat slobs that drive for mega carriers ( Swift, CR England, Schneider, etc) that dump piss bottles, trash and other garbage on parking lots, (Wal-Mart. Malls, other mega stores) for f=#/ing up the industry. ELD’s didn’t make it any better either.

  9. That’s absolutely horrible, but with that being said I want to know what led these drivers into that situation. How could both the carrier and vendor be ignorant to the laws of a state they are shipping product through? Or maybe they did know and made the choice to take a risk. Either way, basic due diligence is CRITICAL when dealing with such a new and at time controversial product.

    1. Trucking was once a good job
      Now it is one of the worst jobs q you don’t see your family very often and there are road blocks everywhere out of 7 days only 3 days go good
      When a young man comes tome and asks about the job I tell him it don’t pay very good any more and don’t waste your time soon it will be self driving trucks

  10. And everyone wonders why there is a truck driver shortage. Truck drivers have always been judged in a double standard against every other citizen.

    1. Didn’t used to be this way…. we used to be called “The Knights of the Road” before the mega Carriers were allowed to start their “Puppy Mill” driving Schools where trainees are training trainees!!

    2. There is no truck driver shortage. The store shelves are always full and trucking companies are going out of business because of too many trucks. They just say that to get corporate welfare from the government and to lower truckers wages.

      Stop repeating the propaganda.

  11. Maybe what is needed is a total trucking boycott of Idaho and grind that miserable justice and HW patrol to a stop. Stupid morons

  12. All trucks meef to boycott Idaho ,all goods until they are released and charges have been dropped.

  13. If anyone should be arrested it should be either the trucking firm or the shipper….The driver was only doing what he was hired and instructed to do by his employer. What our enforcement sytem has done here is negligence in charging the right perpatrators in this case and thats if theres even a case against anyone! Those issues i guess will be in hands of the justice system nto decide and lets hope they make better judgements than the police officers in this case!

    1. Your wrong. The trucking company is fined. The actual trucker broke the law. Hes required to know what hes hauling and the laws

      1. What about the shipper? They had to know they were shipping an illegal product to Idaho. Why aren’t they being prosecuted as well? Actually, they would be shipping an illegal product over state lines.

  14. These truckers know the law and they knowingly broke the law. Been trucking for 6 years now and we are required to know the laws in all states and what were hauling. Stupidity or ignorance doesnt equal innocence. Sorry. We all have rules with our job and as a trucker, the federal government is the one that mandates the rules.

    1. Did you know one cannot haul hemp into Idaho? I’m sure you don’t know every law for every state. I’ve been doing this nonsense for 35 years and I’m certainly not caught up on every states laws.

  15. This is exactly why the federal directives should at all times outweigh the state and local. Plus the state itself shipped it out. Abuse of power. As always nobody wants to stand up to this crap. I see it every day in our industry. Highway patrol always oversteps its authority and goes unchecked. Release these guys. Especially if they had a legal bill of lading for the load from the company that legally makes the product.

    1. I disagree, I believe in states rights. But why hasn’t the shipper been charged as well? Basically, their the cartel in this situation.

      1. States Rights? How about that Slavery, eh? If it wasn’t for the damn south, we’d have way more power at the state level, but those lazy morons couldn’t figure out how to make it work when you had to pay your employees.

  16. You got to know the laws you got to know which states are on what side. Arizona’s the same way they want it illegal you have to know the laws and if you’re in that state you’re breaking the law.

    1. I agree if it is not legal in a state that is against legalization of marijuana and marijuana products the driver’s should route to avoid conflicts it just ashame that the farmers are not going to profit from growing of hemp in a non legal state that is the way it is going in to days time it is a cheaper way to produce products.

    2. I guess I can mail a controlled substance in the US mail, and if my package gets opened and seized, the mail man will go to jail. . . . . Cool!!!!!!!

  17. There is a level of stupid that can’t be explained as anything other than insanity. Idaho borders two states with a higher average IQ where marijuana is totally legal.

    The whole lot of them need to be fired and barred from ever acting as law enforcement or attorneys again.

    No that would be a law that makes sense.

  18. What really gets me is that the first cash crop in the USA was not potatoes, not tobacco ,it was Hemp !
    Our country was foundef on hemp the male plant.
    Hemp was used to make texyiles rope sails for our ships and Navy ,clothes ect.So the legalization of transport of he p should jave been geferalized a long time ago. Idaho was not one original 13 colonies, but but somewhere there’s got to be a grandfather clause that covers the transportation of hemp in all 50 states because it was used for textiles back in the 1800s. Fast Ford to the Nixon regime where President Nixon declares marijuana is a gateway drug, so being a the male species of marijuana hip gets a bad name too.The the reason or at least one of the reasons marijuana has not been legalized is the fact it really couldn’t tax it well States and found a way to tax it for medicinal and recreational use now because it is not did I say the cash crop did it once was for the cartels exedra. they have a new product that government can tax so since their cash crop is changed legalization of marijuana images of breakfast is in southern states have recreational purposes who legalized it Nixon quoted it is a gateway drug you know and it might be but there’s never been one reported case of somebody using too much marijuana and dying there been no just reported from the consumption of too much marijuana it is not like alcohol cocaine prescription drugs anyway back to transportation of hamster Idaho it’s a bullshit law they just want who comes out of money it’s only what they want money they’re not selling enough potatoes or something 3 hard working man truck drivers they’re just doing their job anything if you have to drop the damn charges or something with a misdemeanor and let them go

    1. In AUSTRALUA the drug trade is legalized .
      Reason to boost jobs for hospitals.prisons.morgue.,courts ,police .magistraites
      insurance compAmy’s.,rehabilitation programs etc
      The western system would fail and collapse if media did not promote push crime ,violence ,misery, poverty .,drugs …

      The law has no intention of stopping drug trafficking
      The USA military ,red cross has been trafficking drugs into Philippines sea ports ,air ports under military to destroy democracy to control governments of all nations to create wars to destroy nations to set up Catholic church Govorment..
      Australia is run by stogies and university drop kicks whom get paid to play games ..

  19. If I remember from my high school biology class- almost all plants contain thc, its just highly concentrated in the blossoms of cannabis plants. I think I remember learning that hemp wasn’t actually the cannabis plant, it was found growing along side it (not real sure about that). And in the 1700’s farmers were required to grow hemp as a staple crop because it was so useful to industry, nothing to do with smoking it. This is stupid af. Wish the people that were pushing this would have to get locked up for ignorance.

  20. I’m not sure what that dumb ass was talking about marijuana hasn’t been federally recognized yet or legalized. There’s a current bill in the house that’s being looked at. But it hasn’t been federally recognized yet. Another stupid Democrat that can’t get their facts straight.

  21. Get off your high horse. There is no justice in our so called justice system. Someone of authority needs to step in and correct this injustice.
    They’re going to ruin these lives along with their families for what???? Its hard enough making an honest living and only getting harder as our politicians continue to think raising taxes will solve their budget issues .
    STOP THIS !!!!! We can’t let it happen.
    If it wasn’t for the high expense to bypass Idaho, I would agree to boycott the whole state.
    IDAHO DO WHAT’S MORALLY RIGHT!!!!
    DROP THE F***ING CHARGES.

  22. Idaho… someone needs to be slapped.. ruin the lives of these men so someone can make there career. Then in 6 months the law will change and these guys will be ruined:/ sad sad state our county is in

  23. I think it’s a dam shame how our road kings get kicked in the rear for hauling a product that the country need. The problem is that they not are up to date being Idaho where all you see is pototos rolling down the street.Wake Up Idaho wrong crime and no dam glory.

  24. It appears to me that Idaho’s law enforcement is totally out of control. Many examples of cops going out of their way to break the law just to cite someone else. They apparently think they are God

  25. How does a truck driver know what he is carrying.
    Freight is loaded and unloaded by depots ..
    Only given weights and paper work can be written incorrectly
    It just invoice numbers …
    Again the system of country departments of religion and laws of country would self destruct bankrupt if police stopped crime , drug trafficking,freight
    Parlament is voted in by the people
    You vote for
    workers or corporations
    Crime or just laws
    Poverty or prosperity
    Victims or criminals
    Homosexuals or normal humans

    In AUSTRALUA legal drugs are murd e ing 1 million Austrians each year from medical drugs
    BUT
    doctors are above the law ,,
    POLICE are above the law,
    corporations are above the law
    Crime is above the laws
    Any one whom works is below the law
    And
    Subject to insanity of Govorment and religion laws

    1. That a lot of Austrians to be killed in Australia. What are they doing so far from home? And I’m pretty sure America doesn’t have anything close to a Department of Religion.

  26. The only people that should be charged are the troopers and the District attorney for even prosecuting anyone on this,there was no crime committed. A crime is an unlawful act committed with fore thought and disregard for all laws pertaining to the crime. They didn’t hide anything and the cops wouldn’t of even known what was in the trailer if the driver didn’t show him the BOL. And why were they stopped in the first place. It’s bull shit, the only sovereign people in the us are cops and they know it.

  27. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid loads that can get you locked up. God gave you brains to live a good life, don’t play the lottery with your freedom! No money can replace lost years in jails and definitely not worth it at the rates that are being paid nowadays. Stick to hauling onions, it’s safe and pays ok money. The broker and the dispatcher, the shipper and the owner of the trucking company will not be held responsible, the driver will.

  28. It is flat out a violation Idaho law for the police department to ship the hemp across state lines. The statute makes NO exception for law enforcement. The cops are lying when they say it’s legal for them to possess it, in fact. No exception for law enforcement — merely by possessing it, they are criminals.

    Pretty dumb way to write the statute, but that’s the law.

    Arrest the cops! Every one of them has confessed to multiple felonies under Idaho law just by seizing the hemp, let alone by transporting it across state lines!

  29. I believe some things need to brought out in the day light. Many years ago HEMP was a cash crop in Kentucky. Not unlike tobacco is today.Hemp was used to manufacture rope for ocean going vessels, Hemp resists salt water damage and is stronger than any other rope used on ocean going vessels in the days of using hemp. It was known for making rope not for getting high.

  30. I thought Idaho was conservative and didn’t want to waste tax dollars. Could have fooled me!

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