Farmers Eric and Ryan Jensen first got involved with the authorities in early January 2017 when Kansas Highway Patrol seized more than 300 pounds of what they believed to be marijuana in Liberal, Kansas.
What We Know:
- Taken from the back of a FedEx semi-truck at a warehouse in Liberal, what was actually discovered to be hemp was heading for California and was a legal transport (according to Colorado law, the plants contained no more than 0.3 percent THC).
- However, Lt. Josh Biera swore in an affidavit the boxes gave off “an extremely strong odor of marijuana” ― and seized the shipment. While the case sat for two years, the federal government legalized industrial hemp and its byproducts in the 2018 Farm Bill. At the same time, prosecutors in Seward County charged the Jensen brothers with four drug-related crimes apiece, three of them felonies in January.
- After being the cause of a cantaloupe listeriosis outbreak in 2011 that led to 33 people dying from eating the fruit and 110 more people across 28 states becoming sick, the Jensens were sentenced to 100 hours of community service and had to pay $150,000 in restitution. Part of the reason they ended up in the hemp business was to help with the debt they found themselves in.
- The 350 pounds of product ― worth an estimated $35 to $40 per pound if confirmed to be hemp ― is wasting away in a Kansas warehouse due to Kansas Highway Patrol being unwilling to ship a sample across state lines because they believe it’s marijuana, which would be illegal to travel with.
- The Kansas Department of Agriculture is the only lab in the state that could test the sample — but they do not want to be involved in a criminal case. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation could do it as well, but Kansas will not request the test.
This mess is far from over.