A mother and son duo of farmers who prominently advocated for the law that legalized hemp in Wyoming can finally rest easy after a judge dismissed the marijuana trafficking charges they were facing. Back in November 2019, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (“DCI”) raided Debra Palm-Egle and Joshua Egle’s farm and found 700-plus pounds of dried plant material they assumed to be marijuana. The two were charged with a bevy of marijuana offenses alongside Brock and Shannon Dyke, a contractor and his wife who worked for the farmers and were on the property when it was raided.
However, Laramie County Circuit judge Antoinette Williams dismissed the charges on Wednesday, stating that prosecutors lacked probable cause that the hemp advocates intended to grow and distribute marijuana. The dried plant material found on the farm was actually hemp which the two had admittedly grown without a state license. While the judge reprimanded them for growing unlicensed hemp, she dismissed the charges of conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possess marijuana, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of marijuana, and planting or cultivating marijuana.
The Egles may face a $750 fine for growing hemp without a license, a much lighter punishment than the decades of prison time they could have gotten if the prosecutors had their way. After testing the plant material they seized from the Egles farm, DCI agents found that most of it had less than 0.3%, although the highest result was 0.6% THC. According to Laramie County Assistant District Attorney David Singleton who prosecuted the case, any plant that tested over 0.3% is marijuana.
Circuit Court Judge Williams ruled that it was clear that the two intended to grow hemp and cited as evidence the Egles’ long history as hemp farmers. Additionally, on the day of the raid, Brock Dykes showed DCI agents the results of tests conducted on the crop that indicated it had less than 0.3%. Judge Williams said that while she understood why prosecutors had chosen to pursue the case, she did not believe there was any probable cause.
According to Joshua Egle, he began growing a “test crop of hemp” for research purposes before he got his license. It would take time for farmers to understand how to harvest at the right time to keep THC levels legal while working on new soil, he said after the hearing. Betting that officials would soon work out the new industry regulations and allow him to license the crop, he started growing hemp. “We had to get going,” he says. It would be interesting to hear what marijuana companies like Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) have to say about this case that should never have reached court.
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