Despite hemp being legal at the federal level for almost two years, police in Arizona continue to jail people over it in an attempt to keep the failed drug war alive.
Like the last arrest we reported on in May, the most recent arrest took place in Yavapai County whose district attorney is notorious for imprisoning medical marijuana patients.
But this time, the arresting cop committed the unlawful act of confiscating a phone from the woman he was arresting because she was recording – an act protected by the First Amendment.
But will Yavapai County District Attorney Sheila Polk prosecute the cop?
Probably not considering Polk was just reelected Wednesday with the full backing of the local law enforcement community.
And the cop who seized the phone – Arizona Department of Public Safety officer Mace Craft – is a longtime veteran of the federally funded task forces that have turned Yavapai County into one of the least cannabis-friendly counties in the country.
The woman he arrested on June 24, La Tasha Hicks, ended up spending 10 days in jail on felony drug smuggling charges. Police have still not returned her phone even though its been six weeks.
“He told me for his safety I was not allowed to record what was happening,” Hicks said in a telephone interview with PINAC News.
The 29-year-old Black woman believes she was racially profiled because Craft accused her of driving too close to another car which is a common excuse cops use to pull people over.
Craft then ordered her to step out of the car before even telling her why he had pulled her over. When he asked her if she had anything in the car he should know about, she told him she had the hemp in the trunk. That was when she was arrested.
The truth is, hemp is identical to marijuana because they are both cannabis plants. The only difference is that hemp contains less than .3 percent of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets people high but also has medicinal benefits. Instead, it is rich in CBD, a non-psychoactive compound that also has medicinal benefits.
The only way to determine if a cannabis plant is hemp or marijuana is through a laboratory test because the devices used by cops in the field are notorious for producing false positives since they do not break down the THC levels by percentage.
Hicks said she made the mistake of leaving documentation from the Arizona Department of Agriculture at home that would have proved the hemp was legal. But she also said she gave police the phone number to the company who owned the hemp but they refused to call it.
The documentation which can be read here states the cannabis contains less than .3 percent of THC but it does not appear as if police or prosecutors have made any attempt to conduct an independent laboratory test to come up with their own determination.
Hicks who lives in Phoenix said she was transporting the hemp to Ohio where it would be converted into CBD products.
She also said they offered her a plea deal where she would have to serve six months in jail and five years probation but she rejected it so the case is still pending.
Yavapai County District Attorney Sheila Polk who has been in office since 2000 has prosecuted medical marijuana patients in the past despite its legality in Arizona, sending one man to prison for two years.
Other police departments from around the country have arrested people for hemp, including the NYPD that took to Twitter to brag about a huge pot bust only to have to later return the hemp to its owner.