An Oregon trucker arrested in January for transporting hemp through Ada County has a jury trial scheduled for October.
Denis Palamarchuk, 36, of Portland pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday morning to the single charge of trafficking in marijuana that he faces, according to court records. The charge stems from a January incident in which Idaho State Police troopers found more than 6,000 pounds of a green leafy substance that contained tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Idaho State Police hailed the incident as the largest marijuana seizure in the state’s history. Palamarchuk told police the plants were hemp plants and that he was transporting them through Idaho on behalf of a company called Big Sky Scientific, which produces hemp-related products.
A judge set Palamarchuk’s bond at $100,000; he later bonded out of jail.
Under federal law, industrial hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Idaho is one of less than five states in which hemp remains illegal. However, under state law, any substance containing any amount of THC is considered marijuana.
This is why prosecutors are moving forward with the charge — which carries a mandatory minimum of five years in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction upon conviction — even after the plants tested positive as hemp.
Efforts to change the state law in the recent session of the Idaho Legislature sparked debate and were ultimately futile.
Palamarchuk’s case has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 17 and a three-day jury trial set to begin Oct. 2.
The case has spawned a civil lawsuit against the Idaho State Police and the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, brought by Big Sky Scientific, the company Palamarchuk worked with. That case is currently moving through the federal court system.