All year hemp farmers have been tending to their new crop. They have watered it, fertilized it, and eliminated pesky male plants. They’ve shielded their livelihood against weather, disease, and pests. In their search for CBD, they have kept all manner of threats at bay to get the plants to the point where they can be harvested, and their efforts can be rewarded.
Many farmers have put everything they have into their plants. Whether a sound decision or not, this year is do or die for many farmers. As harvest comes, these hardy individuals are clocking long hours to cut and dry their plants before they can be sold. Hemp that is grown for CBD is still generally cut by hand, as there are no industrial machines up to the task as of yet.
This makes it a crushing disappointment when folks put everything they have into producing industrial hemp, just to have it stolen in the night. It’s an unfortunate problem affecting farms all over the country.
They think it’s marijuana.
There is no hard percentage, as these thieves aren’t being surveyed as they work, but it’s estimated that a third of thieves are stealing hemp under the belief that they are stealing marijuana.
The prospect of free weed is tempting enough to prompt swift action in the night. Many of the farmers complaining were first missing just a few plants each night, then a few dozen, then a few hundred.
The thieves can’t be completely to blame, because industrial hemp grown for CBD is indistinguishable from marijuana in almost every way. They look the same, with their tight flowering buds. They smell the same, offering up that distinct skunky odor.
The plants are both cannabis plants. The only difference is in the spectrum of cannabinoids that they offer. Hemp, by legal definition, doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC. So the thieves won’t realize their error until they try to smoke it.
The hemp itself is valuable.
While some thefts are happening because of mistaken identity, there are likely some that simply realize the value of the plant they are stealing. There is a reason that farmers are growing this cash crop and can afford to harvest each plant by hand.
Industrial hemp grown and sold for CBD can fetch as much as $40,000 an acre for the farmer. The prices of hemp biomass might be dropping, but they are still significant. The green rush that is happening all across the country is likely attracting savvy criminals as well.
If a thief is caught stealing hemp, they won’t be getting off lightly. Felony theft charges usually kick in at $1,000, and with a healthy hemp plant being worth up to $750, it doesn’t take many to get into some very hot water.
It’s happening all across the country.
This kind of theft is happening in almost every state where hemp is being grown. News stories are highlighting the troubles that farmers are having from New York, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, just to name a few.
Thieves aren’t taking off with small sums either. There are reports of farmers losing up to $70,000 of their crop during the night.
Most farmers don’t have the overhead for security. While some farmers are finding it necessary to hire security to patrol their properties at night, most don’t have that option. With all their resources sunk into their plants, another expense isn’t something they are equipped to handle.
As long as hemp continues to be valuable, this will continue to happen. Hopefully, as farmers get more established, they will have the resources to tackle this problem.