Citing the fact that the case will likely set legal precedent across Idaho, attorneys from the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office have agreed to reschedule the sentencing of two out-of-state truckers who pleaded guilty to felonies for transporting industrial hemp through the state.
More than two months have passed since Andrew D’Addario, 28, of Colorado, and Erich Eisenhart, 26, of Oregon, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver it, which is a felony in Idaho. The controlled substance in question was industrial hemp, which the two were transporting from Oregon to Colorado — both states where the product is legal.
Hemp is not legal in Idaho. It does not produce a high, but contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Under Idaho law, anything containing any amount of THC is legally considered marijuana. It is one of few states in the country with such a law, and is at odds with a 2018 federal law in that respect.
Given the amount of hemp they had, the two initially faced a mandatory five-year sentence if convicted of drug trafficking in marijuana. Prosecutors, however, later changed that to possession charges, which do not carry a mandatory minimum sentence.
Their sentence is left up to 4th District Court Judge Jonathan Medema. The sentencing was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but all attorneys involved in the case filed a motion on Monday asking the hearing be pushed back.
Part of the reason for that, according to the motion, was because prosecutors realized “this case will likely have an impact on how jurisdictions across Idaho will handle cases of this type given the current illegality of the interstate transport of hemp in Idaho.”
Idaho, according to the prosecutors, “does not have legislation setting forth a regulatory system that would provide legal framework to allow the interstate transport of hemp.”
Efforts to pass that legislation were fruitless in the most recent Idaho legislative session. A bill introduced to remove hemp from Idaho’s list of scheduled 1 substances, and to allow for the cultivation of the crop in Idaho, died.
An alternate bill, which would have allowed for the transport of hemp through the state for purposes of interstate commerce but would not legalize the growing of hemp in Idaho, died in the final days of the session, as well.
Because of the lack of legislation, prosecutors have “been diligently researching and working to develop solution to avoid the recurrence of the issue facing law enforcement, prosecutors and those seeking to transport hemp in Idaho.”
Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts has declined to drop charges against D’Addario and Eisenhart, despite an online petition — armed with more than 13,000 signatures from across the country — imploring her to do so.
In May, Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise; Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley; and Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, delivered that petition to Bennetts’ office in person.
The defense attorneys were in support of pushing the hearing back, as well, according to the motion. They are negotiating with prosecutors to find a just agreement to recommend to Medema, according to the motion.
The sentencing hearing has been rescheduled for Sept. 17.