BOISE, Idaho — After a shipment of hemp arrived in Boise months ago through the mail, prosecutors in Ada County declined to press charges against the Oregon business that sent it.
It’s another example of the complications created by hemp being legal at the federal level and in every state surrounding Idaho, while it’s illegal within the state boundaries.
Boise police responded to a shipping facility May 29 after receiving a call about 17 boxes containing 69 pounds of suspected marijuana, according to Haley Williams, department spokeswoman. Tests determined the contents met the federal definition of hemp, according to Williams. Industrial hemp was legalized under federal law in the 2018 Farm Bill. The law says hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
But Idaho law states any substance containing THC is illegal, and considered marijuana.
An Ontario, Oregon, business had sent the packages, bound for multiple other states, according to Williams, and the sender never intended them to pass through Idaho.
On June 11, police forwarded the results of their investigation to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office.
In this case, prosecutors noted there was no suspect in the case, according to Bethany Calley, spokeswoman for the office.
“The (Ada County Prosecutor’s Office) would not screen this case because although a crime may have been committed in another state, it was not committed in Idaho,” Calley wrote in an email to the Idaho Press.
Thus, Calley confirmed, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office did not have jurisdiction in the case.
The Boise Police Department returned the packages to the business, Williams confirmed.
Hemp laws in limbo
However, prosecutors have filed charges against others transporting hemp through Ada County. The difference is those three cases — from April 2018 and in January — involved truckers moving the hemp through the county in semitrailers. Prosecutors initially charged each with drug trafficking in marijuana. The truckers are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 17.
In the mail shipment case, however, “the owner/shipper did not have the intent that his product ever come to Idaho, was not sending to a location in Idaho, and did not cause it to come into Idaho,” according to Calley’s email.
Idaho is one of only a few states in which hemp is illegal in any form. The difference between Idaho law and the laws of federal and state governments has created complications for prosecutors.
“Until there is a framework making hemp transport through Idaho legal, any substance with any amount of THC is an illegal substance and by Idaho law is treated as a controlled substance which may not be possessed or delivered in or through Idaho,” Calley wrote.
Legislation to legalize hemp died in the latest legislative session.