That seems to be a question that everyone has an opinion on. And for now, all we really have is anecdotal evidence. Well I guess here is my anecdote.
A little background. I move freight for a living. My clients range from one man LLC’s that move one hemp shipment a month to a major aerospace company that moves 200 loads a month and does not know what CBD even is. I know freight, and I know how freight works within this hemp industry. That is all I will claim to know about hemp. I leave the expertise to the women and men that pioneered and continue to pioneer the industry, and if I can help in that journey I will find some fulfillment.
Off the soapbox and into the nitty gritty. We started moving hemp in January of this year. Had our lawyer read the farm bill, got the OK and began. That simple. In the past 8 months this is a little of what we have learned.
The farm bill explicitly states that interstate transport cannot be interfered with, “No State or Indian Tribe shall prohibit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products produced in accordance with subtitle G of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (as added by section 10113) [the provisions on industrial hemp] through the State or the territory of the Indian Tribe, as applicable.)
But these are all documented issues that have happened in the past 8 months:

  • January 15th, 2019: Small town police in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, pulled over a tractor trailer headed for Colorado. 17,000 pounds. The drivers tell them it’s industrial hemp, but police arrested them. Four people – including a cannabis company founder from Colorado – were then locked up, now facing drug trafficking charges that could bring 15 years to life. Exonerated in July. -Next9 News
  • January 24th, 2019: An Oregon truck driver found himself arrested, held in jail for four days, and charged in Idaho with hauling a material that federal law says is perfectly legal to transport across state lines. Idaho State Police on January 24 arrested Denis Palamarchuck, a driver for VIP Transporter in Portland, OR, after he stopped at a weigh station on his way to Colorado. Officers checked the cargo and pronounced that it contained THC, the substance in marijuana that produces euphoria and, according to Idaho law, is illegal. The driver was charged with felony trafficking of marijuana in what state police said was the largest such bust in the agency’s history. -Fleet Owner
  • April 14th, 2019: Wyoming Highway Patrol pulled a driver over for a random search and found over 8000 lbs of “marijuana like substance”. No field test was performed. They escorted the driver and load to a weigh station and interrogated him for 4 hours and then eventually released him from custody with the load. -Personal story
  • June 21st, 2019: Border Patrol and Customs stops shipment at Yuma, AZ of 1000 lbs at border station. Dog sniffs out van and drivers are arrested and interrogated for 4 hours. No charges against drivers but product seized. Product released from asset forfeiture on July 17th after DEA testing. -Personal story

So what do these situations tell us? That shipping hemp, clones, seedlings, isolate, and distillate can all come with different outcomes. This is what I caution. If you decide to ship hemp, be prepared for different outcomes to happen. All we can do in this ambiguous time is try to be as prepared as possible.
The company you use to ship should “vet” the route before it is used. This means contacting Agriculture stops, weigh stations, and border patrol stops and letting each know there will be a shipment of your product coming through. Ask if there will be a problem. Contact information for each person that was spoken to should be recorded and added into the “packet” the driver holds.

This is how our drivers move:

Packet of Paperwork:

  • Bill of Lading: Standard for any shipment, states who the parties are shipping and receiving, what the commodity is, where it is going, and who is moving it. First thing an officer will ask for if ever stopped.
  • Certificate of Analysis: These state the THC percentage among a myriad of other data. These do not mean that officers will accept these as true, but the more often they see them then the more comfortable they will get.
  • Copy of 2018 Farm Bill: Hard copy with highlighted sections of Transportation and 10113.
  • Agriculture License of Grower and handling license/storefront information of receiver.
  • Business card of transportation company, business card of lawyer and business card of 3rd party that sourced truck.
  • Packing slip/Inventory list of shipment.
  • Contact information of Agriculture stops, Border Patrol, and Weigh Stations and who has been spoken to.

Now I am not going to say that this paperwork is a get out of jail free card, but this is what it comes down to. When an officer smells what they think is “marijuana” or they open a package that looks like “marijuana” he/she has a decision to make. Seize the shipment and get it tested or let the shipment go and risk being fired for not stopping a crime in visible sight of him/her.
This means that communication is key when a shipment is stopped or searched. Drivers must explain that this is the beginning part of the supply chain for all of those CBD oils, tinctures, and products that everyone loves so much. The packet can be given to the officer with an immediate message to call the shipping supervisor that can then explain where the shipment is going and what it will eventually be turned into. After the education, a subtle slip of “I have been instructed to call my lawyer and will be doing so now. Would you like to speak with them?” This subtle explanation makes the officer understand that lawsuits are possible and civil suits have already been filed in some cases as well.
The fact of the matter is this. The government has been given zero instruction or mandates to officers in any state regarding how to handle these situations. There is no way of truly knowing something is hemp or above the THC threshold unless the shipment is held and tested by the government. Until we find a solution to test immediately or a COA that is universally accepted the prepared and the lucky will prevail. But as the old adage by Mr. Jefferson goes, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Stay tuned for more information on the best modes of transport.
**As as caveat. Stay out of Idaho. There is an ongoing case with their court system and as of now there is a good chance that any hemp or derived products will get seized and charges pressed.

Trever Benjamin
Head of Business Development, FreightNow
(480) 216-2565