PAWHUSKA, Okla. – Defense attorneys are calling for charges to be dropped against four men who were arrested after they were found hauling 18,000 pounds of cannabis in one Oklahoma town.
It all started last month when police in Pawhuska saw a semi-truck running a red light, and officers noticed a white van following closely behind the truck.
Authorities decided to pull the vehicle over and soon discovered at least 18,000 pounds of what they said was marijuana.
“The substance did field test presumptive positive for marijuana,” court documents state.
However, the men who were accompanying the shipment all said that the product was not marijuana, but was hemp.
Investigators say the driver gave officers a bill of sale for hemp, but they say the document was vague.
One of the alleged suspects told FOX 23 that they work for a company that makes medicine.
“I run a veteran-owned company. This is absolute horse****. We are legal and compliant,” Andrew Ross said. “This is a federally-legal product and we’re making medicine for veterans.”
Authorities say Farah Warsame, Tadesse Deneke, Andrew Ross and David Dirksen were arrested on allegations of aggravated trafficking.
For weeks, Osage County authorities waited for tests to come back to show the level of THC in the samples in order to determine if it is hemp or if it is marijuana.
While both hemp and marijuana contain THC, hemp has a very low trace of THC- less than .03%.
Now, one defense attorney says testing is complete and the results prove that his clients are innocent.
Defense Attorney Matt Lyons told the Tulsa World that federal testing has been completed on 11 samples, with only two found to be marginally over the legal THC limit.
At this point, two of the men- Deneke and Warsame- have been unable to obtain a bond so they are still in jail.
Lyons says he still doesn't understand why anyone was arrested, since hemp growers found to be in violation of the law are only given civil fines or penalties.
“Why is this (still) being criminally prosecuted?” Lyons said. “Is this because you made the mistake of prosecuting them before the tests were done?”
The district attorney's office has not commented on the recent findings.
Now, the Osage County District Attorney's Office will send the truck to Colorado to have THC testing done on the entire nine tons of cannabis, defense attorneys claim.