The Kern County Sheriff’s Office recently teamed up with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate a series of hemp fields in Arvin, California. They determined that 11 different fields operating in the area were marijuana and not hemp.
Officials caught onto the scheme after being tipped off about these illicit sites. The investigation culminated in a search warrant that was executed on October 25. The sum of the eleven fields came to 459 acres of land planted with marijuana. The officials seized 10 million plants. The value of that much marijuana on the black market is estimated at over $1 billion.
“These illicit marijuana gardens were grown under the guise of legitimate hemp production,” KCSO stated to the news. “The Food and Agricultural Code and Health and Safety Code define industrial hemp as containing less than 0.3% THC content. The research exemption allows for cultivators to grow and possess hemp/cannabis that is over 0.3% THC content, ‘if that cultivation or possession contributes to the development of types of industrial hemp that will comply with the three-tenths of 1 percent THC limit established in this division.”
The plants in the seizure were tested for their levels of THC and were found to be well over the legal limit to be considered hemp. The KCSO did not state the exact THC levels found in the plants, but it was enough for law enforcement to be confident in their actions.