Farmers: NYPD 'marijuana' seizure was legally grown hemp

NYPD officers posed with 106 pounds of what they say is marijuana, but the farmers who grew say is legal hemp. (NYPD/Facebook)

NEW HAVEN, Vt. (WPTZ) — Police in New York City celebrated the seizure of 106 pounds of what they said was marijuana.

But the farmers who shipped the plant said it was all legally grown hemp.

NYPD posted a photo of officers with the seizure on Facebook November 3, touting the "great job" done by officers in confiscating the apparent drug, as well as arresting the person who was to receive the delivery.

But while police claimed credit for a big bust, the owners of Fox Holler Farms in New Haven, Vermont were crying foul. They said in their own Facebook post that the packages that were seized were "100% hemp" from a crop that was in compliance in Vermont, New York and under federal law.

"We are farmers, not criminals," the post read.

Fox Holler said they worked all summer to grow a compliant crop to harvest hemp for CBD products, which advocates say offers a calming effect without the intoxication of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

When the farm shipped nine boxes of their hemp to a CBD shop in New York, police moved in to seize it. They said they had received a tip, believing the shipment contained marijuana.

Once the photo of the officers smiling with the "marijuana" was posted to Facebook, Fox Holler Farms owner Jahala Dudley was flabbergasted.

"I'm looking at it. It's the stuff you see in movies," Dudley told WPTZ-TV. "Like, these two cops are holding our hemp, like it's an awesome drug bust! This is hemp!"

One detective who Dudley said she spoke with by phone seemed unaware of the distinction between marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, and its cannabis cousin, hemp.

A person looking at packaged hemp "can't tell the difference" she said. "Genetically it's a very similar plant. I'm not blaming anyone for that. But the paperwork was there. We've had it all tested."

Agriculture leaders in Vermont have reached out to officials in New York to try to straighten out the issue, but so far, NYPD hasn't commented on what they call an active investigation.

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