As we reported earlier, there was a break-in at Franny’s Farmacy’s Hendersonville store around 4 a.m. this morning.

Thanks to surveillance videos, the Hendersonville Police Department tells Carolina Cannabis News that the car used in the break-in has been identified. The police department provided the media with an image of a distinctive-looking white sedan; distinctive due to damage on the rear passenger door.

Two people appear to be involved with the incident. The Hendersonville Police says the public quickly identified the vehicle and that they’re working on leads.

No additional damages or losses were reported.

[Image courtesy Hendersonville Police Department. This car was caught on surveillance camera at the Franny’s Farmacy store at the time of this morning’s break in. The police say they have identified the owner of the car.]

Why steal a few ounces of hemp?

Those of us in-the-know realize hemp flower isn’t going to get anyone high, so it may not make sense why someone would steal hemp flower.

Sgt. Kenneth Hipps, a spokesperson for the Hendersonville Police, says it’s impossible to know why someone would break into a retail establishment to steal hemp. But he’s got two guesses why they stole hemp flower and nothing else: They don’t understand that hemp won’t get a person high, or something much more nefarious and deadly.

[Read: Cannabis for pain relief: Can it help with the opioid crisis?]

Police departments have noticed a trend among opiate users. Hipps says opioid addicts will spray fentanyl onto dried cannabis flower — whether high-THC or hemp — then smoke it as a way to get a heroin-high.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate responsible for the deaths of more than 28,000 people in 2017 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Fentanyl is considered 50 times more powerful than heroin, and, according to VICE News, it’s cheap and easy to access. If you suspect someone has ingested fentanyl call 9-1-1 immediately.

It is such a dangerous drug that Sgt. Hipps says Hendersonville Police officers carry vials of Narcan, the opioid reversal medication, in their vehicles at all times in the event they are exposed fentanyl.

How to protect yourself

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.” Ever; not from high-THC ‘marijuana’ or high-CBD hemp.

If you’re buying hemp flower from reputable dispensaries that share their lab reports (often called “COAs, or Certificates of Analysis”) you shouldn’t worry about laced products. (Though, more on industry oversight and self-regulation in an upcoming story.)

If you are buying hemp or high-THC marijuana on the black market and concerned about laced weed, here’s what to look out for according to “Does it have a funny chemical smell? Does it look unusually wet, or covered in a white powder? If it smells or tastes funny, it probably is funny.”

Sgt. Hipps’ tips for cannabis smokers

Sgt. Hipps has some advice for hemp customers to help you stay out of trouble with the police.

First of all, keep in mind police officers cannot immediately tell the difference between high-CBD hemp and high-THC marijuana — both are dried cannabis flowers, albeit with different genetics. The dried flowers look, smell, taste and burn the same. They look the same rolled into joints or pre-rolls. If you’re busted with a lot of it, Hipps says, his department would have to send it to state labs for testing before they would know how to charge you.

[Read: Gold Standard CBD bus ransacked; hemp seized]

You may have noticed when you buy hemp products in the Carolinas many dispensaries are stapling bags closed, or sealing tubes that carry pre-rolled hemp cigarettes. It’s also becoming more common for companies to attach their COAs onto their products, or to staple them to closed bags.

Sgt. Hipps’ advice is to leave those bags and packages sealed until you get home. He says officers are finding that people are re-using hemp packages to transport high-THC, which is prohibited by law.

[Read: Understanding THCV (p.s. it’s legal)]

He says if police officers stop you and smell hemp that gives them probable cause to search your car. So, if you still have the products in their original package with COAs attached and bags stapled, their case for probable cause is diminished.

[Image: Franny’s Grammy’s, pre-rolled hemp sticks decorated with hemp kief.]

“We’ve got the probable cause, just by the smell, to search their vehicle,” says Hipps. “But if they’re honest with me and say, ‘I just went to the CBD store and, look, it’s still sealed up,’ there’s a greater chance of them just going on their way.”

“It was a huge education, just spending 15 minutes talking with the owner (of Franny’s Farmacy),” says Hipps. Co-owner Jeff Tacy showed the officers how his store packages pre-rolls, for example; inside a sealed plastic tube.

“I gave him an example of a guy who used your pre-roll container and stuffed a blunt down into it,” says Hipps adding that Franny’s Farmacy “does a really good job” with their packaging; “out the door, it’s sealed.”

Hipps says to keep in mind that officers have a lot of discretion when it comes to marijuana charges.

“My personal feelings are that as long as someone’s honest with me, even if they have the real marijuana,” he says, “As long as they’re honest with me, most of the time we just have them stomp it out, or dispose of it, and they go away without a charge. It’s become that much of a hassle for an everyday officer; we don’t deal with small amounts. That’s me. I can’t speak for the other officers.”

He says his stance is personal, not directed by any governmental body. And, he says if the amount of prohibited high-THC marijuana in a person’s possession “is in pounds or half pounds,” or intended for resale, then that’s a different story.

“You’re also talking to a sergeant, somebody who’s been on the job for 18 years,” Sgt. Hipps says. “To me, that marijuana charge is not that great, anyway; I don’t want to clog up the courts with a simple possession of marijuna which they would typically throw out anyway.”

BY Rhiannon Fionn

BY Rhiannon Fionn

Editor & Publisher

Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.