Hemp farmer loses $70,000 in plants to thieves who think it's marijuana

Hemp farmer loses $70,000 in plants to thieves who think it's marijuana

By Megan Magensky

A Franklin County hemp farmer is losing tens of thousands of dollars in plants to thieves that are taking the hemp thinking it's marijuana.

“They think it's something that it isn't, and that's why they're doing what they're doing,” said Matthew Morrell, the owner of MM Hay Services, LLC. One of his fields is just off of Highway 395 in Franklin County.

It's now time to harvest, but thieves are stealing Morrell’s crop.

“We started off with a few plants here and there getting pulled, and it's gradually just ramped up kind of out of control to where last night (Sunday) we had people that were armed getting out of vehicles to come steal plants,” Morrell said.

The plants look and smell like marijuana, but hemp can’t get you high. Hemp plants have less than .3 percent THC, which is the chemical that creates psychological effects. Marijuana plants can have up to 30 percent.

“People are going to be stupid and go out and try to steal it and get high with it and it’s not going to happen,” said Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond. He said they’ve arrested several people in connection to theft and trespassing in the hemp field.

Growing hemp in the U.S. just became legal in February. Morrell’s hemp plants make CBD oil which he said Walgreens and CVS buy to put in medication. Morrell said people need to get used to seeing the plant and educate themselves on what it is.

“It’s just a standard crop like corn or wheat or alfalfa or anything else now,” Morrell said.

Morrell said the thieves have stolen around $70,000 worth of hemp plants.

“I've had to hire people to come out here and patrol to try to keep people from stealing the crop from us,” Morrell said.

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