Weather Forecast

Close

News

A stand of industrial hemp is shown at a Minnesota farm. Photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Minnesota farmer suing the state charged after products test high for THC

LANESBORO, Minn. — A Lanesboro hemp farmer who sued the Department of Agriculture for revoking his license now faces criminal charges after the psychoactive ingredients in his products were found to be above the legal limit.

A criminal complaint was filed in Fillmore County District Court on June 12 charging Luis Hummel with felony fifth-degree drug sales, felony possession of a controlled substance and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree drug possession. Hummel was not arrested, but given a summons to appear in court on the charges on July 8.

According to the criminal complaint, on March 15, Fillmore County law enforcement conducted a traffic stop in rural Ostrander, about 35 miles south of Rochester. After smelling an odor consistent to marijuana, the deputy asked the driver how much marijuana he had in the vehicle. The driver allegedly stated that CBD hemp and other CBD products for marijuana wax were in the vehicle, and that he was selling the items on behalf of Hummel and his business, 5th Sun Gardens in Lanesboro.

On March 20, an investigator with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office received testing results of the seized items and found that the marijuana wax had Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol of 3.59% and a total THC of 3.6%.

Legal hemp allows a maximum 0.3% THC level, which is the psychoactive part of cannabis. For comparison, a marijuana joint is estimated to have between 12% to 15% THC.

“These results are in excess of what is allowed by statute, which is 0.3 percent Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol,” the complaint reads.

A vape tip with marijuana wax was also tested and had a Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol of 3.11% and a total THC of 3.11%, according to court records.

The results of the tests were sent to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

When investigators spoke with Hummel in April, he allegedly told law enforcement that “the dabs were legal last year but are not legal under the new law.”

“Hummel stated he recognized that when he concentrates it, the 0.3 percent becomes more like 1 percent or 2 percent THC,” the complaint states. “Hummel informed [Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jesse] Grabau that people buy his products because they make it just like regular cannabis to entice the buyer, but they’re taking most of the psychoactive effects out of it.”

The complaint states that Hummel allegedly admitted the driver of the products that were seized was a distributor for him, due to the fact that he goes to a lot of festivals.

The charges came not long after Hummel sued the state of Minnesota in federal court, alleging his constitutional rights had been violated after the MDA sent him a letter in May informing him his license to grow industrial hemp had been revoked for one year.

The letter stated that law enforcement had pulled over an individual with products from Hummel’s farm who was planning to sell them. Earlier this month, Hummel said he wasn’t told who was pulled over or the THC levels that were in the products.

Growing hemp in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is in charge of regulating hemp farmers, after the 2014 Farm Bill contained a provision that allowed state departments of agriculture to administer pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp.

According to MDA’s website, individuals and businesses in Minnesota must get licensed in the MDA Industrial Hemp Pilot Program to grow and process hemp. To be considered, hemp growers and processors must have a federal and state background check performed, send a set of their fingerprints and provide a detailed map of the fields they plan to grow hemp.

To examine how much THC is in hemp that is grown in the state, an MDA inspector samples each field grown by pilot participants. The fields are sampled within 30 days of harvest, and are sent to accredited labs for analysis.

Six participants grew industrial hemp under MDA’s pilot program in 2016, harvesting approximately 40 acres. In 2017, there were 38 registered pilot participants, who grew 1,205 acres. In 2018, there were 51 pilot participants, who grew 710 acres.

According to Whitney Place, MDA assistant commissioner, Hummel is the second hemp farmer in the state to have their license suspended for having an illegal THC amount in their product.