Lawmakers rally for truckers

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

A bipartisan effort by state legislators is under way on behalf of truck drivers facing charges for hauling industrial hemp.

Reps. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, delivered a petition with 12,000 signatures Tuesday to the office of Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts asking her to drop charges against Andrew D’Addario, Erich Eisenhart and Denis Palamarchuk. The men were arrested and charged for hauling industrial hemp despite the cargo being legal for transportation in most of the country.

“Dropping these charges is a bipartisan issue,” Moon said in a statement. “These individuals will have a criminal record for the rest of their lives for doing what any working person in their position would have done.  They are truck drivers, not lawyers, and they should not have their lives ruined for not doing the legal research to discover that Idaho’s laws are out of step with the rest of America. Idaho’s archaic hemp laws are depriving our farmers of opportunity, they are punishing people for honest work, and they are wasting our tax dollars. The Legislature will hopefully fix the law next year, but in the meantime, the Ada County Prosecutor should show better judgment and drop these charges immediately.”

The petition, which was posted online by Tracy Olson, is an effort to correct a failure by the Idaho Legislature to update Idaho’s hemp laws this year. Hemp, a strain of cannabis, is still considered a drug by the state despite containing almost no THC, the intoxicating compound found in marijuana.

“These truck drivers are not a danger to our state,” Rubel said in a statement. “Idaho is on the brink of committing a serious injustice. These men should not face prison time and a felony criminal record for doing their jobs. They did not come to Idaho with the intent to cause harm or create trouble, and we strongly urge the prosecutor to drop charges. It is difficult to think of a worse way to spend taxpayer dollars than by prosecuting and imprisoning these gentlemen who were trying to make an honest living transporting harmless agricultural products.” 

Ada County prosecutors and Idaho State Police show no signs of budging, the Idaho Press reports. 

“Those of us who enforce Idaho’s laws are bound by the laws which currently exist, not those which may exist at some future date,” they said in a statement.

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