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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.”


  1. James

    Idaho is full of Mormons too. Drive around the state see how many Mormon churches there are. Mormon mafia is what govt should be cracking down on not truckers out trying to earn a living. Republican or Democrat they’re both corrupt. People need to open both eyes and see this. They both can destroy a person’s life over trivial matters. These truckers should have all charges dropped. Western society is starting to fall apart because of greed and corruption

  2. mousekiller

    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.

  3. Anon

    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!

  4. Dima Malai

    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.

  5. Pf

    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.

  6. ray

    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
    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
    Subject to insanity of Govorment and religion laws

    1. BuckeyeinAB

      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.

  7. Wayne Bower

    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

Comments are closed.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected]