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Drop the Charges on Hemp Truck Drivers!

Ada County Prosecutors brought charges carrying a mandatory five-year sentence

Drop the Charges on Hemp Truck Drivers!
Graphic: iStock/Getty Images

Drop the Charges on Hemp Truck Drivers!

By Representative Ilana Rubel (D) and Representative Dorothy Moon (R)

When Denis Palamarchuk, a trucker from Portland, Oregon, presented his bill of lading for 6,700 pounds of industrial hemp to officials at the Idaho port of entry on January 24, 2019, he surely never dreamed of the nightmare that lay ahead. Hemp had been legalized federally under the 2018 Farm Bill, and was legal in nearly every other state. Just last week, tests were publicized regarding the “green, leafy” cargo in question, and it was proven to be hemp with THC levels under 0.3 percent. But that hasn’t helped Mr. Palamarchuk, because Idaho draws no distinction between hemp and marijuana. The ISP gleefully declared this the biggest “marijuana” bust in state history, and prosecutors brought charges carrying a mandatory five-year sentence – no possibility of parole. He joins two other truck drivers who are awaiting sentencing for driving industrial hemp through Idaho.

We are legislators representing different parties, but we agree on the basic principle that your tax dollars should never be used to perpetrate injustice. We are on the brink of such injustice should these drivers be imprisoned or saddled with criminal records hampering future employment (and disqualifying them from commercial drivers’ licenses). There are two major flaws in Idaho’s laws that have led to this outrageous situation. One is that Idaho draws no distinction between hemp and marijuana. The other is that Idaho allows judges no discretion whatsoever to set an appropriate sentence where “drug trafficking” is concerned, but instead imposes mandatory minimum sentences.

Last session, we co-sponsored two bills which, had they passed, would have improved Idaho’s laws dramatically. First, we tried to legalize the transport, sale and farming of hemp to bring Idaho in line with federal and nearly every other state law. Most importantly, the bill would have conformed to federal removal of hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp is not a mind-altering drug – it is a versatile crop used for food, clothing, lotions, paper and more. The first American flag made by Betsy Ross was made from industrial hemp. Yet despite strong, bipartisan passage through the House, it ultimately died when the Senate, at the request of law enforcement, gutted the bill to the point that most sponsors abandoned it.

Second, we tried to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, so that a judge would have the power NOT to sentence Mr. Palamarchuk to 5 years in prison. Had he committed arson, robbery, kidnapping, or virtually any other crime, the judge would have discretion in sentencing, but because this is considered “drug trafficking”, the judge’s hands are completely tied. Our bill passed with a bipartisan supermajority through the House, but was denied even a hearing in the Senate by Chairman Todd Lakey.

Now, three hapless truck drivers face the cruel consequences of the Legislature’s inaction. At this point, the only way they can go on with their lives without prison time or a criminal record is if the Ada County Prosecutor decides to drop charges. She could do this tomorrow if she so chose; Idaho’s laws have taken the power and discretion from judges and given it to prosecutors. Over 2,000 Idahoans have already signed a petition on Change.org, asking for charges to be dropped. We have signed it, and we hope you will too. And we will keep working to improve our laws so this never happens again.

PETITION: Drop the Charges on Hemp Truck Drivers!

2018 Farm Bill

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6 Comments on Drop the Charges on Hemp Truck Drivers!

  1. Ugh ! Here’s a situation tailor made for the Federal Supremacist/anti state’s rights crowd. The Fed worshipers can hold up these idiotic Idaho laws against hemp as an example of why Federal Law should prevail. For those of us who have fought so hard and risked so much to alleviate malign Federal racketeering, To establish State Sovereignty, this folly over “Devil Weed” in Idaho gives ammo to the opposition.

    • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would disagree with your term of “Devil Weed” for hemp. They grew hemp on their farms. Our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the united States of America are both written on hemp “paper”. This is truly a case of the State of Idaho interfering with lawful INTERSTATE COMMERCE, which IS one of the few duties of the federal government.

  2. The government, any government in America, has no authority to own a citizen’s body. Period. That authority is not there in the highest law of the land. Outlawing marijuana is illegitimate on its face, because to tell any citizen what he may or may not put into his body is in fact an assertion of government’s “right” to own a citizen’s body. No one on earth can argue with that. Our nation’s Founders dovetailed all the various elements of the Constitution in such a way as to ensure that the individual American citizen is a self-owner given by “God” or “Nature’s God” certain “Unalienable Rights”, including the right to full self-ownership over one’s mind and body.
    What the damned statists want to do with marijuana laws will come back to bite all of us on the butt because the entire “War on Drugs” is a bogus, unlawful, assertion of authority for government to own us.
    My newest Psy-Op for The Mental Militia is to attack directly the idiocy of the so-called “War on Drugs” by encouraging freedom-minded ladies everywhere to enjoy showing off their freedom as self-owners by wearing earrings in sterling silver which feature solid castings of marijuana seeds into solid sterling silver appointments for this line of jewelry.
    See more about that here —
    https://thementalmilitia.net/2019/05/12/silver-seeds-liberty/

    Do we want freedom, or do we want to be slaves of the empire Patrick Henry warned us against? Self-ownership is the opposite of slavery.

    And btw, Quatermain is absolutely correct — this case is one for Jury Nullification. Anyone not already familiar with that may learn all about it here —
    https://thementalmilitia.net/2016/05/24/the-first-branch/

    Salute!
    Elias Alias. Note: I am an honorably discharged U.S. Marine veteran of the Viet Nam war, former editor for the Oath Keepers national website (7 years), founder twenty years ago of The Mental Militia, and damned tired of the burgeoning statism with its militarized police state operating at the whim of power mongering control freaks holding government seats at the expense of our very Constitutionally protected rights as free Americans.

  3. I wonder if John Boehner and Bill Clinton ever secretly smoked “devil weed” together? Probably did but never inhaled? Looks as if Mr Boehner found himself a new moneymaker. Hope that works out well for him. Speaking of never inhaling I wonder how Monica’s doing?

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