Now developing hemp, not deadly cantaloupe, Jensen brothers face felony charges in Kansas


Former cantaloupe growers, brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, owed $26,368 in restitution imposed by the U.S. District Court in Denver when they decided to perform off their debt by assisting with a family members hemp developing operation.

Their time as cantaloupe growers in Southwest Colorado did not go so nicely when Listeria contaminated their crop, resulting in 33 deaths and scores of illnesses.

The brothers on, Jan. 30, 2014, every single pleaded guilty to counts of introducing, aiding and abetting the adulterated meals into interstate commerce. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hagarty sentenced every single to six months dwelling detention and 5 years probation.

Just as the Jensens have been seeking for their subsequent jobs, Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill permitting cultivation of hemp for investigation purposes and encouraging state “pilot applications.” Colorado enlisted early, becoming a single of the nation’s top hemp producers. The THC limit for industrial hemp is .three %. If a crop exceeds the ceiling, the Colorado Division of Agriculture will destroy it. Industrial hemp is distinctive than medicinal or recreational marijuana and as a result topic to distinctive regulations.

The Jensen’s hemp farm, truly owned by Eric’s son, is just 10 miles from the Kansas-Colorado border at Holly, CO. In January 2017, Fed-Ex picked up 300 pounds of boxed hemp at the Jensen farm. It was bound for California, an additional state involved in the new era of the hemp market.

But the shipment did not straight away go west to California, it went east to a Fed-Ex warehouse in Liberal, KS. Kansas is not moving as immediately on hemp as Colorado and California. Only lately has Kansas been conducting industrial hemp investigation.

At the FedEx warehouse, some workers reportedly known as the Kansas Highway Patrol right after “smelling marijuana,” The state patrol seized the shipment.

The seized shipment place industrial hemp farmers who are promoted by Colorado in worry of becoming arrested in neighboring Kansas. Kansas officials attempted to extradite Eric Jensen and failed. They did no go right after Ryan.

But the Kansas prosecutor for Seward County did charge the brothers in January 2019 with 4 felonies such as distributing marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The Jensen brothers are far from the initially industrial hemp growers to get caught in the transition that is occurring. The U.S. Division of Agriculture in Could ruled that states could not interfere with the interstate transport of industrial hemp.

The Jensen’s shipment integrated documentation that the hemp contained significantly less than .three % THC. But that did not cease Kansas Patrol Lt. Josh Biera from seizing it due to the fact “there was an incredibly powerful odor of marijuana coming from every single of the boxes.”

Van Hampton, the Dodge City lawyer representing Eric Jensen, desires to get the seized hemp tested. But Seward County Judge Clint Peterson will not hold a hearing on the motion to even take into account a testing order.

The only sanctioned lab in Kansas for such a test is also dragging its feet.

The Kansas Division of Agriculture (KDA) does not want to be involved with a criminal case. And, Kade Goodwin, the assistant prosecuting lawyer, does want to ship a sample to an additional state or third-celebration lab. He thinks the KDA desires to be extra cooperative.

At the moment, it a stalemate. Without having testing Kansas can not prove its charges but neither can the Jensens prove their case.

In their earlier brush with the law, the deadly Listeria outbreak occurred due to the fact of several failures at Jensen Farms. The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration discovered Jensen Farms suffered from a “general lack of awareness of meals security principles.”

The deadly Listeria outbreak involved 33 deaths and a single miscarriage. The 147 confirmed Listeria individuals have been spread across 28 states. And, 143 of the victims expected hospital remedy. The Jensen brothers and other people in their distribution network recalled thousands of fresh cantaloupe.

The Jensen brothers grew cantaloupe close to the Kansas-Colorado border, outdoors of the Rocky Ford cantaloupe developing location in the Arkansas River Valley.

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