WELLFORD, S.C. (WYFF) - Wellford police seized 183 pounds of what officers believed could be marijuana. The man who bought it says it’s hemp.
A sample has been sent to SLED, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
The chief of Wellford police told WYFF4 News neither of the two drivers transporting the product are facing charges right now, but based on the containers involved and the nature of the documents, the investigating officer did the right thing.
"We do not want to withhold anything that’s legal from anybody. But the way it’s packaged and the way the investigation has gone up to this point we wanted to do our due diligence in making sure that it is what it’s said to be,” said Chief David Green.
A man who identified himself as Glen McDonald, an industrial hemp distributor in Texas, tells WYFF4′s Renée Wunderlich over the phone that he paid between $20,000 and $30,000 for 70 to 100 pounds of hemp from Bio Lab Global, a hemp farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
McDonald said that two drivers he hired to go pick up his order and transport it back to Texas were pulled over Tuesday night in Wellford.
He said that the police there “traumatized” the two drivers, tried to get them to admit that they were trafficking drugs, and threatened that they would be serving 25 years to life in prison.
McDonald said Wellford police took and kept the two men’s licenses, but released them to drive back to Texas.
"This is a terrible emotional deal that they’re putting us through. And it’s just not fair for other people to go through this in the future. I think that they personally need a test for the side (of) the highway when they run into this. Test it real quick, have a nice day, sir. I understand their side - it smells like the other stuff, it looks like it, but it’s not,” McDonald said.
Green told WYFF4 that’s not what happened; he said that both the drivers and police officers were very respectful, their licenses were returned, and that, if the product is legal, McDonald will have 30 days to claim it.
If the test shows a level of THC higher than .3, it would be considered marijuana, which is illegal in the state of South Carolina.
WYFF4 has requested both police body camera and dash camera footage from the incident. Chief Green said he will make it available at the end of the investigation.
According to documents sent to WYFF4, the company that farms the industrial hemp is licensed until 2022 in the state of North Carolina.
Austin Diggs, the President of Bio Lab Global sent a statement to WYFF4 News:
“In regards to last nights arrest in Wellford, SC: Bio Lab Global is a licensed processor, distributor, and cultivator of legal hemp and CBD products based in North Carolina. We are fully licensed Processors of The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission and are licensed by the same Commission to Cultivate industrial hemp with the intent to research and market. Business was transacted in North Carolina, where we are fully licensed and continue to do good business. We have worked closely and helped educate our own local police departments on these matters, and it is a frustrating process for everyone. The US Department of Agriculture has posted their final rule regarding the transportation of hemp stating “Thus, states and Indian tribes may not prevent the movement of hemp through their states or territories even if they prohibit its production.” This is a discouraging series of events, but not uncommon in this industry, especially despite the efforts of so many people to raise awareness and help educate the world about hemp and its benefits. Rules can change quickly in the hemp world, but unfortunately we can’t stick to being farmers, growers, processors, but must also serve as educators, activists and friendly neighbors."
Chief Green is hoping South Carolina lawmakers can set some regulations for how legal, industrial hemp must be labeled and transported to avoid this confusion next time.