Bill would protect hemp farmers from law enforcement seizure

Posted at 4:47 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 19:58:37-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To protect Tennessee hemp farmers from seizure of their crop, a state legislature has introduced a bill that would make law enforcement test cannabis on the spot.

Industrial hemp and cannabis with high levels of THC often times look and smell similar. Because of this, state representative Jay Reedy worries that hemp farmers could have their crop confiscated by law enforcement across the state.

"With the smell of this plant, you don't know if it's cannabis or it's hemp," said Reedy. "How do we test, how do we make a paper trail to educate ourselves about that."

Reedy's solution is to have law enforcement equipped with a way to test the plant during a traffic stop. Reedy believes that would prevent law enforcement from making a mistake, taking a crop that is legal to grow.

"Preventing law enforcement from harassing growers, processors and consumers of this product just because they smell something that smells like marijuana. There's that burden of proof on, when we're taking this plant or this product to market, we don't need to be harassed in getting there," said Reedy.

Reedy, a republican state lawmaker representing the city of Erin, is also a hemp farmer. He said law enforcement do not have a good enough understanding of the hemp plant and the current laws regulating it. Hemp was federally legalized with the recent passage of the farm bill. Tennessee has a pilot program that's growing every year.

HB 274 is the bill Reedy hopes will turn into Tennessee's solution. He believes a clear path towards creating state policy will develop in the legislature in 2019.