An ongoing investigation is underway in Central California after the Kern County Sheriff’s Office was recently made aware that several hemp cultivators in the area were growing marijuana in their fields.
Upon receiving the information, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office initiated the investigation with the assistance of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
On October 25, 2019, search warrants were served at eleven separate hemp cultivation fields which occupied more than 459 acres of land in the Arvin area.
“These illicit marijuana gardens were grown under the guise of legitimate hemp production,” wrote the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in a press release. “The Food and Agricultural Code and Health and Safety Code define industrial hemp has (sic) containing less than 0.3% THC content. The research exemption allows for cultivators to grow and possess hemp/cannabis that is over 0.3% THC content, if that cultivation or possession contributes to the development of types of industrial hemp that will comply with the three-tenths of 1 percent THC limit established in this division.”
The provision does not allow for the commercial sale of any variety of cannabis, including hemp, that is over the threshold.
During the service of the search warrants, Kern County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics units seized and eradicated approximately 10 million marijuana plants which were estimated to be worth around $1 billion on the black market.
Preliminary testing revealed the THC levels in the fields to be well over the legal limit for industrial hemp production.