Idaho News

Trucker faces felony for hauling what he said was hemp through Idaho. Now he’ll go to trial.

A Portland truck driver charged with drug trafficking for hauling cannabis through Idaho — police said it was marijuana, the driver said it was hemp — is set to go to trial in early October.

Denis Palamarchuk pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in 4th District Court on Tuesday morning, according to online court records.

District Court Judge Jonathan Medema scheduled a three-day trial, which is set to start Oct. 2. A pretrial conference was set for Sept. 17.

Though the federal farm bill legalized hemp in December, it remains illegal in Idaho. The Idaho Legislature considered bills that would have legalized hemp — but none passed. One of those bills would have legalized hemp transport through the state.

Erich Eisenhart, a 25-year-old Oregon man, and Andrew D’Addario, a 27-year-old Colorado man, got caught hauling hemp plants through Idaho in April 2018. They pleaded guilty last week to possession with the intent to deliver. The crime carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. They will be sentenced June 25.

This is a news update on our story from April 4, 2019.

A Portland truck driver who was charged in January with felony drug trafficking for transporting a TCH-containing substance in Idaho — which police believed was marijuana, but his boss said was hemp that was legal under the federal farm bill — appeared in Ada County Court on Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Denis V. Palamarchuk, 36, needed a Russian translator to understand the proceedings.

“The state and I are still working on a potential resolution in this case,” Palamarchuck’s attorney, James Keith Ball, told Magistrate Judge David Manweiler. “In order to keep this case going, keep negotiations going, we’re going to waive at this point.”

Idaho State Police haven’t released the results of the out-of-state tests done on the 6,700 pounds of material that was seized. Police said it doesn’t matter whether it’s marijuana or hemp because both are still illegal under state law; anything that tests positive for THC is prohibited.

Idaho lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would legalize industrial hemp, and a second bill focused only on legalizing the transport of hemp and CBD through the state.

The company that owns the cargo sued ISP and tried to get the truck back, arguing that the federal farm bill passed in December protects interstate commerce. A federal judge declined to release the truck but said in his ruling that there was “no evidence in the record that the seized load does not meet the definition of industrial hemp in the 2018 farm bill.”

The farm bill defines hemp as having .3 percent THC or less. THC is a psychoactive drug; the amount in hemp is so miniscule that it doesn’t give users a high.

In January, Palarmarchuk was released from jail after posting $100,000 bond.

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