By Greg Kocher
Oklahoma investigators are trying to determine whether a tractor-trailer en route from Kentucky to Colorado carried 18,000 or more pounds of industrial hemp, illegal marijuana or both.
A local news station is reporting that four people have been charged in the case, but the president of a Colorado company said the shipment was “nothing but hemp” that was to be processed into oil for use in a variety of salves and supplements.
“It’s a mix-up,” said James “Jamie” Baumgartner, president of Panacea Life Sciences. “It’s also a lack of understanding of local authorities about what is allowed and what is not. It’s our understanding as a licensed hemp broker that we were free to exchange from point to point hemp or hemp-based products between states that have a hemp program. This was completely shocking to us when we heard the fellows were pulled over.”
Two Pawhuska, Okla., police officers stopped the truck just before 3 a.m. Wednesday because it didn’t stop at a stoplight, reported KOTV in Tulsa, Okla.
Farah Warsame, Tadesse Deneke, Andrew Ross and David Dirksen have been arrested in the case, according to Oklahoma’s News 4. Each has been charged with trafficking of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, according to the website of the Osage County Sheriff’s Office.
The officers said they smelled an odor of marijuana, Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, said in a Thursday interview. Paperwork for the shipment said the truck was transporting 18,000 pounds of hemp from Kentucky to Colorado.
Some of the contents “looked like hemp and some also were buds that looked like it