NEW HAVEN, Vt. (WPTZ/CNN) - New York Police thought they got a 106-pound shipment of marijuana off the streets. They even posted pictures on social media showing off their haul, grinning from ear to ear.
The farmers who shipped the plants say it wasn’t marijuana at all. They said it’s actually hemp, which is legal and has no THC in it.
Now, they are out thousands of dollars.
In the fields of New Haven, Vermont, hemp farmers are racing to harvest the last of this year's commercial crop.
Getting it dried and packaged for market isn't easy, and Jahala Dudley, of Fox Holler Farms, was pretty happy to get a 106-pound shipment out the door on Friday night.
"Everything was fine. We've done shipments with FedEx before. Many times," Dudley said.
FedEx in Williston signed off and sent it on to Brooklyn, where someone apparently contacted the New York City Police Department. Officers quickly seized the shipment and arrested the representative for the buyer, a CBD store in New York City.
NYPD then posted the news on Facebook and twitter, congratulating their officers of the 75th precinct for their “relentless effort” to keep “106-pounds of marijuana off city streets.”
Except for one thing: It was legal hemp.
"It's all legal and we did everything by the books. We really tried to do everything the right way,” said Buddy Koerner, with Fox Holler Farms.
Organic hemp may look and smell just like marijuana, but it's different.
Growers say every box contained clear documentation and test results showing "undetectable levels of THC,” and that, under federal law, makes it legal to ship to all 50 states. Dudley said it was new information to police when she got the NYPD detective on the phone.
“He asked me what the legal amounts of THC was,” Dudley said.
A spokesman for the police department said Tuesday he was unaware of any mistake.
Now, a shipment worth $17,500 sits in a police warehouse.
"This shipment will make or break the farm this year. If this sale goes through, we're gonna be OK. We're gonna break even. If this sale doesn't go through, we didn't break even this year,” Dudley said.
Vermont Agency of Agriculture is involved now, trying to help sort out the error.
In the meantime, two young farmers wait.
Dudley says a lawyer told her to make one change going forward and switch to the U.S. Postal Service.