Gold Standard CBD hemp products were seized in Florida this past weekend. Company owners say their RV, wrapped with the company logo and an image of a cannabis leaf, was damaged in the search and that an estimated $5,000 in hemp flower, Hemp Stix and other products were seized by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department in Florida.
The company’s products are widely available in the Carolinas.
“North Carolina is our most profitable region right now,” says co-owner Zion Greenfield, one of the company employees detained in Florida on Saturday.
Here’s what we know
The Gold Standard CBD RV has been on a nationwide tour for months, including through North Carolina this past autumn.
The Oregon-based company produces hemp and CBD products that are available — and legal — nationwide.
Greenfield, and his fiance Josephine Sze — a company employee, had taken a break from the road to take a cruise from a port in Florida. When they returned, on Jan. 12, at approximately 8 a.m., and as they attempted to enter the Gold Standard CBD RV, they were greeted by at least two sheriff’s cars and drug-sniffing dogs.
The Gold Standard employees were detained for more than four hours causing Greenfield to miss a flight. When they asked if they could call their attorney, they were told by sheriff’s deputies they could not use their phone at all.
Though the couple says the police threatened to arrest them, in the end they did not issue a citation or even a case number. But the sheriff’s department did confiscate approximately a quarter pound of hemp flower and hemp products.
Because they weren’t cited or charged, there is no court date or penalty established, and it is unclear when, or if, the sheriff’s department will return the seized hemp. The couple wasn’t given any way to track their belongings beyond an email address for one of the officers.
Carolina Cannabis News has been told by two Brevard County Sheriff Department employees that we are unable to request public documents related to the case because we don’t have a case number.
UPDATE: Moments after publishing this article, a public information officer for the sheriff’s department was able to provide a case number, meaning we are now able to seek public documents in this case. And we will.
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On Saturday the Brevard County, FL Sheriffs raided the Gold Standard bus because there is a “pot leaf” on it. They seized all of our CBD products on the basis that they failed the field test for marijuana. Police forces nation wide are using outdated field testing methods that deliver a positive result for marijuana even on THC-free hemp derived products. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and provided protections for the interstate commerce of hemp. The law says no state or Indian tribe “shall prohibit transportation or shipment of hemp” that was produced in accordance with the law. There is now a serious need for reform and education on how the police decipher hemp from marijuana. As of now, hemp companies are forced to pay the consequences of uneducated police. Ignorance to the law should be a two way street and the public should not be the only one to suffer the consequences of it. We believe the solution may be 2 fold: 1. The field testing kit could be updated so that it can tell low THC from high THC. 2. The government could mandate hemp education within its agencies so that enforcement knows what to look for and why. Thoughts?
Greenfield and Sze were told, during their parking lot detention, that they were free to go but that the sheriff’s department would conduct additional testing on the hemp products and, if found to be high in THC, that arrest warrants for trafficking marijuana would be issued.
The amount of hemp in question does not meet current Florida standards for a trafficking violation, however, which requires posession of more than 25 pounds of high-THC cannabis.
Possession of between 20 grams and 25 pounds of high-THC, non-oil-based cannabis is a felony in Florida, even though the state has legalized medical marijuana. Conviction on a charge of possesion of a quarter pound, in this case, could result in imprisonment of up to five years and a fine up to $5,000.
Faulty test kits?
Greenfield say a NarcoPouch Drug Test Kit was used to verify the THC content of the hemp flower in their possession. It is unclear if the kit used was one of the NarcoPouch kits that have been discontinued, if it was a general test kit or a more expensive marijuana-specific test kit.
Carolina Cannabis News has contacted the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department to confirm which field test was used and was told a ready answer wasn’t available, according to public information officer Todd Goodyear. We are waiting for follow up calls to be returned.
Ten packs of marijuana-specific NarcoPouch Drug Test Kits cost $22.50 and general kits cost $16.80.
“It’s basically a liquid inside of a small plastic tube,” says Greenfield. “It’s really cheap.”
Greenfield says he and his business partner, Lucas Brown, have purchased the test kits in the past to find out how they would interact with their products and discovered that even CBD isolates failed the NarcoPouch tests.
CBD isolates are just that — isolated cannabidiol, or CBD; if they contain any tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) it should only be in trace amounts at a maximum.
The couple says they have been sharing with the sheriff’s department their lab testing results and even articles by Asheville-based cannabis attorney Rod Kight.
Kight’s articles appear regularly on Carolina Cannabis News, like this one where he points out faulty tests resulting in erroneous high-THC results for hemp.
Years ago, “field tests” widely used by police nationwide were found faulty in numerous cases. “No central agency, for instance, regulates the manufacture or sale of the tests, and no comprehensive records are kept about their use. There’s no evidence any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency has sought to formally establish error rates for the tests,” reports the Pacific Standard magazine, circa 2016.
Hemp is legal
With the passage of the 2018 farm bill, hemp is now federally legal. However, Greenfield says, the Florida sheriff’s deputies told him that “leafy buds are not legal.”
Greenfield says it took nearly four hours to convince the deputies to search the internet for information on the farm bill, and once they did they decided to let the couple go.
“It seemed like a big decision to let us go,” says Greenfield.
During the period when they were detained, Greenfield says, “All they were worried about was flower material.”
Carolina Cannabis News is working to confirm that this is the standard held by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department.
Greenfield says this isn’t the first time his hemp products have been seized and not returned.
“We have lost a similar amount of inventory from the U.S. Postal Service,” he says, adding that his products have not been returned after nearly eight months. He estimates a total of $15,000 in company products have been seized in all.
In addition to losing their products, Greenfield says their RV was damaged and ransacked. “It was, like, purposely ransacked,” he says, “Then it was like ‘alright. See ya.'”