Hemp thefts skyrocket in the USA

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It looks as though many hemp farmers in the USA have been facing an uphill battle in protecting their crops from pests – the two-legged kind.

It wasn’t that long ago news of hemp theft wasn’t all that common, but with so many states now permitting cultivating the crop and harvest season in play, incidents are being reported daily.

Among the instances of plants being stolen reported across the country over the last few weeks:

  • In Fresno County, California, three incidents occurred within  two weeks. In one incident, a suspect pointed a firearm at the owner of the property before making an escape. The same property was then raided again around a week later by a group of 15-20 people, one of them armed.
  • In Williamson County, Texas, one juvenile was arrested for theft of hemp – with investigations continuing in identifying other suspects.
  • In Plainfield, Illinois, three thieves were arrested. The farmer was also charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct as he held the thieves at gunpoint.
  • In Napanee, Indiana, a man was arrested for stealing $3,500 worth of hemp.
  • In Montgomery County, Maryland, four people have been arrested for stealing hemp from a farm.
  • In St. Joseph County, Michigan, six were arrested following an attempted theft.
  • In Savannah, New York, a farmer says his plants are being stolen every night.

… and the list goes on.

Aside from the thefts themselves being upsetting and costly, the involvement of firearms and violence is becoming more commonplace. Farmers have to battle enough against various pests that seek to destroy their livelihood – they really don’t need the additional stresses and danger of two-legged ones with guns.

Some of these thieves are just clueless – there is no point in stealing hemp destined for food or fibre applications as it has zero recreational value. However, crops grown for cannabidiol are also being targeted – perhaps for CBD extraction, which is a valuable (but non-intoxicating) compound. But even with CBD crops, it’s more likely also a case of mistaken identity or for the purposes of trying to pass off dried product to unsuspecting buyers as marijuana.

The situation in the USA is something farmers in other countries such as Australia should be watching closely – an added risk to be factored in and weighed up against potential rewards. Theft is also happening here; albeit not as common as hemp farming is still in its very early stages in Australia. We reported back in September a couple of hemp farmers in South Australia found trespassing on their property to be relentless; to the point they’ll never grow the crop again.

In Australia, being apprehended for stealing hemp can result in punishment for more than just trespass and theft, as possession of plants without a licence is a serious offence.

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