Petition calls for dropped charges for truckers hauling hemp in Idaho

The petition calls the serious charges against the three truckers an "embarrassment to the State of Idaho."

Hemp?

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition that calls for Idaho authorities to drop drug trafficking charges that were recently leveled against three truck drivers who were caught hauling hemp in the state.

The Change.org petition was started by Tracy Olson and calls for the Ada County Prosecutor’s office to drop all charges against truck drivers Andrew D’Addario, Erich Eisenhart, and Denis Palamarchuk. All three truckers were initially charged with drug trafficking for hauling industrial hemp that police suspected was marijuana.

The petition has been signed by 4,244 people so far.

Team truck drivers Andrew D’Addario, 28, and Erich Eisenhart, 26, were both arrested in Ada County, Idaho, in April 2018 when police found more than 900 marijuana plants inside the their truck during a traffic stop, according to the Idaho State Journal. For the past year, both truckers have maintained their story — that they were hauling industrial hemp plants from a farm in Colorado to a farm in Oregon.

The Farm Bill signed into law by President Trump in December of 2018 made the transportation of industrial hemp legal in a federal level, but under Idaho state law, any substance that contains any amount of THC is considered to be illegal.

D’Addario and Eisenhart both pled guilty after the Farm Bill was passed to charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver in April of 2019 — alll the while maintaining that they were only hauling hemp. Both truckers are still awaiting sentencing.

Palamarchuk, 36, ran into a similar situation well after the Farm Bill went into effect. He was traveling through the East Boise Port of Entry on January 24, 2019, when an Idaho trooper who was conducting an inspection became suspicious and discovered 31 large bags full of more than 6,700 pounds of a “green leafy substance” in the trailer. Though the bill of ladling and Palamarchuk both said that the substance was hemp, police contended that it was illegal marijuana.

Hemp Truckers

The trooper used a Narcotic Identification Kit and determined that the substance in the bags contained THC.

Palamarchuk was arrested and charged with felony trafficking in marijuana.

Though testing later revealed that the substance was hemp, which has very low THC levels when compared with marijuana, Palamarchuk is still facing felony charges and could face five years in prison.

The petition implores the Ada County Prosecutors Office to rectify the situation for the three truckers. “It is cruel to upend these men’s lives in the current manner, and frankly, it is an embarrassment to the State of Idaho.  You are the only player in our legal system who has the power to fix the situation and ensure they can go on with their lives without a criminal record from these events. Please wisely use the discretion that you have been given, and drop the charges immediately,” it reads.

The Ada County Prosecutors Office is aware of the petition. They issued the following statement:

“Although the ethical rules limit what we can say regarding pending cases, this office is aware of the petition and aware of the constituents who are interested in these cases. This office takes very seriously its obligations and responsibilities not only to the public we serve, but to each case, including these cases.”

Idaho lawmakers Ilana Rubel and Dorothy Moon have both spoken out for leniency for the three truckers and called the situation “outrageous.” They say that the truckers are victims of two flaws in Idaho laws: “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.”

You can click here to view or sign the petition.