Farmers say 106-pound NYPD Brooklyn marijuana bust was legal hemp

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City police took a 106-pound shipment of marijuana off the streets, but now there are questions as to whether the packages were actually legal hemp.

And the possible mix-up has some Vermont farmers out thousands of dollars.

In the fields in New Haven, hemp farmers are racing to harvest the last of this year's commercial crop. To get it dried and packaged for market isn't easy, and Jahala Dudley, of Fox Holler Farms, said he was pretty happy to get the 106-pound shipment out the door Friday night.

"Everything was fine," she said. "We've done shipments with FedEx before, many times."

Federal Express in Williston signed off and sent it on to Brooklyn, where someone apparently tipped off the NYPD. Officers quickly seized the shipment and arrested the representative for the buyer, a CBD store in New York City.

The police department then posted the news on Facebook and Twitter, congratulating their officers of the 75th Precinct for their "relentless effort" to keep "106 pounds of marijuana off city streets."

But the farmers are crying foul.

"It's all legal, and we did everything by the books," Fox Holler Farms' Buddy Koerner said. "We really tried to do everything the right way."

Organic hemp may look and smell just like marijuana, but it's different. Growers say every box contained clear documentation and test results showing "undetectable levels of THC."

And that, under federal law, makes it legal to ship to all 50 states -- which was news, Dudley said, when she got the NYPD detective on the phone.

"He asked me what the legal amounts of THC was," she said.

An NYPD spokesman said Tuesday he was unaware of any mistake. Now, a shipment worth $17,500 sits in a police warehouse.

"This shipment will make or break the farm this year," Dudley said. "If this sale goes through, we're going to be OK. We're going to break even. If this sale doesn't go through, we didn't break even this year."

Vermont's Agency of Agriculture is also involved now, trying to help sort out the error. Meantime, the two young farmers wait.

Dudley says a lawyer told her to make one change going forward -- switch to the using the U.S. Postal Service.

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