Florida resident hauling legal, documented hemp was jailed for one month for a cannabis charge.
Florida man Aneudy Gonzalez spent almost a month behind bas for transporting what was thought to be more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana in a U-Haul truck before he was released. Agents charged Gonzalez with felony drug possession with intent to distribute. However, the man was released after the substance turned out to actually be hemp, which is perfectly legal because of the low levels of THC present in the plant.
Gonzalez showed the trooper who arrested him the lab report indicating the product met the standards for hemp, but it was confiscated anyway, and he was charged. Gonzalez’s attorney, Daniel Mehler of Mehler Cannabis, said his client “intends to sue for violation of his civil rights. It is also possible that the seized hemp has degraded, which could also mean a suit for the destruction of a million dollars of hemp.” Gonzales confirmed. “Nobody has apologized to me. Somebody owes me an apology,” he said.
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement, saying “the trooper believed the material was marijuana based on his training and experience.” It continued, “The trooper arrested Mr. Gonzalez and following further questioning by a [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] Task Force Officer, the DEA Officer adopted the investigation and took custody of Mr. Gonzalez and all evidence.”
“They legalized a plant that has a distinction that’s invisible to everyone except a machine,” Tisdell said. “Aneudy got searched because they smelled marijuana. Well, they can’t smell marijuana anymore. They can smell cannabis.”
Police say they are only acting on their training, which dictates that any green leafy substance must be seized and labeled as marijuana even if there is evidence to the contrary, such as certified documents included with the shipments that clearly state the product is legal hemp.
“It’s a complete lack of training,” said Tisdell. “These officers are not being trained in the new laws, and innocent people are going to jail and sitting there because they are participating in a legal market.” He added that Gonzalez had paperwork.
“The driver had documentation showing it was hemp, and they just decided they were not going to believe him and arrested him,” Tisdell says. “He didn’t get to spend the holidays with his family because they said he was a danger to the community even though he had no priors and didn’t own any guns…It’s a problem we’re going to have to fight out in the appellate courts. Prior to the Farm Bill, if it smelled like marijuana, it was marijuana. It didn’t matter about the THC level. And the smell of marijuana allowed police to search your car. The problem now is the smell of cannabis doesn’t tell you anything. It can be legal cannabis, or it can be illegal cannabis. It smells exactly the same; it looks exactly the same.”
“We’re just going to have a bunch of unlawful arrests. I think that’s how this plays out,” said Daniel Mehler, a Colorado cannabis attorney representing Gonzalez with Tisdell. “In an ideal world…we wouldn’t see them doubling down on this.”