Jury trial postponed for Minnesota hemp farmer
Trial was scheduled to begin on April 20, but postponed because of coronavirus.
PRESTON, Minn. — The criminal trial for a Lanesboro, Minn., hemp farmer has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Luis "Lulu Magoo" Hummel is charged in Fillmore County District Court with fifth-degree drug sales, felony possession of a controlled substance and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree drug possession.
The charges came after products derived from hemp on Hummel's farm were seized in a March 15 traffic stop and tested above the acceptable 0.3% threshold for THC content.
Hummel's trial was scheduled to begin April 20.
"It's scheduled for a jury trial and those are just not going to happen right now," said Brett Corson, Fillmore County attorney.
Hummel and his company, 5th Sun Gardens LLC, filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court of Minnesota last May against the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, its commissioner and three named officials as well as two unnamed individuals.
On Feb. 3, Hummel, through attorney Jason Tarasek, filed a motion to dismiss the case after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the Department of Agriculture.
“The great thing about this agreement is that it gives Luis the opportunity to sell his product and recoup his substantial investment in his crop without having to continue to fight in federal court and pay attorneys' fees to fund that fight,” said Tarasek at that time.
According to the settlement, Hummel will not seek to recover attorney fees and has waived his right to a hearing on his license revocation. He also agreed that he will not apply for a Minnesota Industrial Hemp License in 2020 or anytime after. Growing hemp again was something Hummel was willing to give up, according to Tarasek.
Hummel was allowed to have the 2019 hemp crop he harvested processed, but he was required to use a licensed processor and provide the state agency with the name of the processor.
On April 28, Corson said he wasn't sure if that settlement would impact Hummel's decision to continue on with his right to a jury trial. He said he hadn't received anything from Hummel's criminal defense attorney, Susan Johnson, who was unable to be reached for comment.
"Maybe they want to talk now, with that issue out of the way," Corson said. "I don't know if that was one of the factors why he took the approach he's taking."
Corson said the issue regarding Hummel's criminal case is no longer unique to Fillmore County, as other defense attorneys in the state are now making similar arguments.
"To say that you can't show this green leafy substance is actually mairjuana versus hemp," said Corson. "There's some other counties that have called me about it, and it's a defense that's out there right now."
He said he had no idea when Hummel's trial would be rescheduled for.
"The word right now is no jury trials, until we figure out how to socially distance the jury, especially if it's a felony with 13 people," Corson said. "How to keep them far enough part yet hear the case at the same time."