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Oregon truck driver finds himself in middle of state, federal battle over legality of his load of ‘industrial hemp’

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Oregon truck driver Denis Palamarchuk, 36, of Portland, Oregon, has found himself in the middle of a state/federal fight over whether the “industrial hemp” he was hauling from Oregon through Idaho and on to Colorado was illegal.

The Idaho Press reports that Palamarchuk was arrested January 24 at the East Boise, Idaho Point-of-Entry with the hemp load and had a legal bill of lading for it.

Hemp and marijuana are different parts of the same plant, and the recently passed federal Farm Bill forbids states from preventing the transportation of hemp, which is used in cosmetics, dietary supplements and other products. Meanwhile, the Colorado company the hemp belongs to wants its seized shipment back from Idaho and is citing the Farm Bill in a court filing against the state.

Idaho State Police seized 6,701 pounds of the hemp, which tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. One news account said drug dogs alerted to the hemp.

The trouble stems from the fact that in Idaho, any amount of THC, the part of pot that makes you high, is illegal.

Consequently, the Ada County prosecuting attorney’s office insists that hauling hemp through Idaho is illegal and that the seizure was lawful.

Hemp, while not a scheduled substance, contains trace amounts of THC but not enough to produce a high. Under federal regulations, hemp must contain 0.3 percent or less of THC.

Idaho State Police said the seized hemp is being tested at a lab independent of their office but did not specify which lab is conducting the tests. If the substance does contain greater than 0.3 percent THC, it would not meet the federal definition of hemp.

Big Sky Scientific, the Colorado company that was the intended recipient of the hemp, has filed a lawsuit against Idaho State Police, and in court documents, documented that the shipment is industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

“Big Sky has a legally protectable interest in the present controversy because it has rightful title to the property and said property is federally-protected pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill,” the complaint stated.

The Farm Bill, which was updated in December, says, “No State or Indian Tribe shall prohibit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products produced in accordance with subtitle G of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (as added by section 10113) through the State or the territory of the Indian Tribe, as applicable,” in section 10114, item B.

Elijah Watkins, an attorney representing Big Sky, told the Idaho Press that Idaho has no right to stop a business in one state from obtaining a legal good from another.

“I think regardless of the Farm Bill, it’s still of a lawful good,” he said.

But under Idaho law, all species of cannabis regardless of genus, including low-THC hemp plants, are illegal.

Ada County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bandy said hemp haulers aren’t free from prosecution, because of the Idaho law making hemp illegal. Bandy would not comment further, since the state police office is facing litigation, the Press reported.

Meanwhile, VIP Transportation, the Portland-based trucking company that was hauling the substance in question, is defending the legality of the shipment.

“We are 1,000 percent sure that this will get resolved because we didn’t break any law,” Ivan Pavliy, owner of VIP Transportation, previously told the newspaper.

Pavliy said it was the company’s third load of hemp when Palamarchuk was arrested. It is unclear if the company had previously hauled hemp through Idaho, as it services 48 states.

“If proper climate and airflow are not maintained, the product will mold,” according to the court document. “If that happens, the product will be worthless and Big Sky will have lost not only the estimated $1.3 million value of its industrial hemp shipment’s isolates, but also the opportunity of being among the first entrants into the new congressionally-created industrial hemp market.”

According to the document, the hemp was being transported from Boones Ferry Berry Farm, which is a licensed industrial hemp grower in the state of Oregon. Additionally, the hemp grown at the farm was tested by two different state-certified laboratories to certify its THC content met federal standards, according to an enclosed memorandum.

Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts responded to Big Sky in a document filed with the court, stating that regardless of whether the product meets the federal standards of hemp, it is still illegal in the state of Idaho, making the seizure lawful.

Citing Idaho law, Bennetts refused to comply with the emergency motion for injunctive relief.

While production and possession of hemp and marijuana are still illegal in Idaho, the state’s Legislature may change the state’s position on hemp.

State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, plans to introduce a bill soon that would legalize hemp in Idaho, which she said will give Idaho farmers an option to grow a versatile and potentially lucrative crop.

Meanwhile, according to trucking attorney Brad Klepper, driver Palamarchuk faces marijuana trafficking charges.

Klepper said if found guilty, Palamarchuk could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000.

In April 2018, the Idaho State Police arrested Andrew D’Addario, 27, of Colorado, and Erich Eisenhart, 25, of Oregon, for hauling hemp plants through Idaho.

 

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The Nation

Diesel heads up 4 cents a gallon to $3.006

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Diesel prices jumped 4 cents a gallon to ring up Tuesday at $3.006. (The Trucker file photo)

For the past several months, including the end of 2018, all the “experts” said oil (and consequently diesel) was going nowhere but up. It had to, they reasoned, after prices had almost literally scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Then oil and diesel both went down for weeks. After that it stayed the same.

Now diesel prices are finally up — 4 cents a gallon — to $3.006 a gallon Tuesday from $2.966 a gallon last week.

Normally, diesel prices would have been announced Monday, but since it was President’s Day, diesel prices were released Tuesday.

And it may be a testament to how long prices had been going down or stayed flat that none of the U.S. Information Administration’s 10 reporting regions were clocking $4-a-gallon diesel, not even California, where diesel was ringing up at $3.739.

Also, four regions were still below $3 a gallon as of Tuesday.

And although 4 cents a gallon for the on-highway national average was a significant jump from the week before, the Lower Atlantic and Midwest regions each jumped 5.5 cents a gallon. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic sector went from $2.872 last week to $2.927 Tuesday while in the Midwest, diesel prices went from $2.849 last week to $2.904 today.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest prices at $2.809 a gallon, up 3.3 cents from the week prior.

Is this the start of an upward trend? It’s hard to know what oil prices will do in a global economy that is teetering since what seems like a bandwagon jump out of the European Union.

Meanwhile, oil was trading up:

U.S. crude added 48 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after gaining $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 16 cents to $66.34 per barrel, The Associated Press reported.

For diesel prices by sector, click here.

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The Nation

Ohio governor to reveal gas tax hike plan Thursday

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Ohio's tp Transportation Department executive says the state is facing an "impending crisis" unless more road funding is provided. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll announce Thursday his proposed recommendation for increasing the state’s gas tax to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on road construction.

DeWine, a Republican, says there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.

He wouldn’t provide details or say what the proposed increase will be. He spoke at an annual forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

DeWine says the increase is “just to keep us where we are today.”

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation director said earlier this month that Ohio’s road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an “impending crisis” unless more funding is provided.

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OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’

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Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.

 

 

 

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