The New York Police Department (NYPD) has a troubled relationship with cannabis. Historically—and continuing through to the present—much of that relationship has played out in the form of racially discriminate anti-cannabis policing.
For example, even though the city has taken steps to decriminalize weed, NYPD cops continue to harrass and arrest people of color for weed-related offenses.
This pattern has been confirmed as recently as July 2018. That month, NYPD watchdog group Police Reform Organization Project released a study on NYPD policing practices. One of the most alarming findings showed that 93 percent of weed arrests involved people of color.
Now, it looks like NYPD’s relationship with weed has once again taken a strange turn. Over the weekend, the department turned to social media to brag about a weed bust. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t weed. It was hemp, federally legal hemp.
NYPD Mistakenly Brags About Weed Bust
Over the weekend, NYPD’s 75th Precinct posted a photo to its Facebook page. In it, two officers are shown holding what appear to be big bags of weed. Further, the cops are standing in a room filled with tons of these same bags.
Beneath the photo, the precinct posted the following caption: “Great job by Day Tour Sector E yesterday. Working with FedEx and other local law enforcement, they were able to confiscate 106 Lbs. of marijuana, and arrest the individual associated with the intended delivery.”
However, their bragging session was cut short when the farm that grew the confiscated product spoke out. Fox Holler Farms, located in New Haven, Vermont, published a Facebook post clarifying things.
Specifically, the farm made clear that the cops had not confiscated marijuana. Instead, the cops had stolen a huge shipment of fully legal hemp.
“We cannot believe this will be our first Facebook post,” the farm wrote. “We’ve been working hard all summer to grow a CBD compliant hemp crop. We succeeded too; Our crop was ‘Non detectable’ on delta 9 thc – compliant in Vermont, New York and federally . . . This shipment was 100% hemp. We shipped 106 lbs to our legitimate buyer and CBD-business owner in NYC and it was intercepted by the NYPD.”
The post continued: “This picture frustrates us and concerns us. Why are these officers showing off hemp as though it’s marijuana? Why are the not aware of the laws they are entrusted to protect?”
Marijuana vs. Hemp And Why it Matters
The key distinction here is the legal difference between “marijuana” and “hemp.” Under the terms of the 2018 federal Farm Bill, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent THC.
The Farm Bill removed these plants from the list of federally banned substances. As a result, it’s legal to use hemp plants to make a number of products, including everything from textiles to hemp-derived CBD.
However, the federal government continues to outlaw marijuana, which is defined as cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC.
From the looks of things, NYPD still does not know the difference between the two plants. Similarly, it appears that NYPD also does not know that hemp plants are no longer illegal.
At this point, it’s unclear what will happen with the stolen hemp. It’s also unclear what is happening to the person NYPD claimed was arrested for being involved in this legal shipment of hemp.