The Kern County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday it has seized and eradicated more than 459 acres of marijuana in the Arvin area that had been cultivated under the guise of being legal hemp.

In a joint investigation with the FBI and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the sheriff's office said it served a search warrant in the area last Friday after receiving information that led it to 11 fields containing about 10 million pot plants with a street value of more than $1 billion.

The sheriff's office said all samples of the plants tested "well above" the federal limit of 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. As The Californian reported earlier this week, sources have said some samples tested as high as 7 percent.

It was unclear what legal authority the sheriff's office used to seize the plants. As the agency itself reported in a brief news release Thursday, federal law permits researchers to possess, but not sell or process, hemp that exceeds the federal THC limit, so long as the plant's cultivation is intended to produce hemp that falls within the legal limit.

A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday. The agency has previously declined to answer questions about eradication of hemp in the Arvin, saying its investigation is ongoing.

Hemp has become highly valued in recent years as consumers embrace the cure-all known as cannabidiol, or CBD, which comes from the hemp plant. CBD does not produce the euphoric high that marijuana does.

The seizures complicate Kern's efforts to promote cultivation of hemp, a plant that was legal in the United States until it was banned, along with marijuana, in the late 1930s. Hemp has traditionally been used for cordage, though it is also used in animal bedding, concrete and textiles.

The seizures represent a relatively small portion of Kern's total hemp acreage. More than 7,000 acres of hemp have been registered with the county agricultural commissioner's office, which requires farmers state where they grow the plant and post signs stating the crop is hemp.

County officials have said they support hemp cultivation because it cross-pollinates with marijuana plants and effectively lowers pot's THC level. Pot production, sale and processing is all but illegal in most parts of Kern County.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

(10) comments

7nickfish

I'm sorry if I seem heartless but why do we spend more time and attention to the homeless when so many other issues and concerns are out there to take care of. 90% of the homeless problem will NEVER be resolved since it is a life style issue. Also if we really want to deal with this we need to make it a crime to give money to the panhandlers that are a menace to the driving public and fund drug use (it was stated to me that the money earned-$400-600 per day was being used for drugs ) SO the emphasis we have with the homeless is a waste of taxpayer money and simply encourages the conduct. If you pander to them it will only get worse. Look to city's that enforce laws that discourage this homeless behavior and it will have a positive effect in making them go elsewhere. We either make it harder for this lifestyle of we will have 10 times the problem and never see an end to this type of lifestyle in our community.

coolrayfruge1959

Spoken like a true Conservative Christian .And Jesus wept.! Here's something the news don't tell you. There are a lot of people living on the streets who weren't always drug addicts or alcoholics criminals or mentally ill. The pressure of society drove them to that point. Most are elderly, some are veterans living on the streets, abandoned. Like the Houses around the neighborhoods. Each have a different story. not this narrow minded view the media paints of them when your living on the streets you live in fear for your life. Alcohol and drugs helps you deal with it. It is the only way some can get to sleep. When your stripped of your self worth and lose your self esteem, because you've been judged by a society that deems you human garbage. You tend to feel hopeless, depressed, feeling that your worthless. shunned. Some get desperate and angry . They start to commit crimes cause they just don't care anymore. cause they feel they've been robbed and want to get back at a society they feel has let them down. Which leads us to the mess we have now that people like you want to just bury and hope it will just goes away. You complain about them panhandling. Why about those who are billionaire's who have more money than they need yet want to cut our SSI and Health care . That many average American mostly elderly need and depend on for their survival. They're always putting the debt on those with the least income to pay off this country's debts and fix the infrastructure and other problems.

She Dee

Told you this hemp was a joke. How much did this little "experiment" end up costing the taxpayers?

coolrayfruge1959

Hemp is not a joke. The War on Drugs is a joke. You have those that are still buying into the "reefer Madness" Propaganda film in the 1950's. I still laugh when I see it. Could be the Marijuana. Still waiting for Cheech and Chong to do their version of that film. "Up in Smoke was Pretty Good".

She Dee

What part of the RICO ACT did I miss. Either way you cut the cake, it looks like organized crime just got some of it's dough mowed down due to mismanagement of the allowable THC levels. Maybe they just had some bad seeds & the measurements were off. Doesn't matter. It's a joke that is ruining this state.

lyntwo

I am not in favor of drug use. However, the 'War' on drugs has been, and is, an abysmal failure. A black market has been created which has come to finance an entire parallel economy, an economy which with the predatory Wall Street economy, has distorted and destroyed the main street economy and human happiness.

Legalize and tax. The lobbyists of the new legalized industry can then make legal campaign contributions and the politicians can dispense tax breaks and exemptions in return.

lrlopez74

That could pay for a lot of homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, Meals on Wheels programs, after school programs...

All Star

So these drug dealers are going to donate all their profits to helping others?

Steelerman

So, when you say "drug dealers," you include the pharmaceutical companies that have promoted the opioid crisis like Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, and Teva, right?

coolrayfruge1959

Exactly! the infrastructure. That's 1 billion dollars that could help people in California. There has been more deaths caused by Tobacco . yet our government is not cracking down on tobacco's production. Marijuana has so many good purpose's . Besides just getting high. CBD oil has helped cancer patience, children and adults who suffer from seizers,, the list goes on, You can make clothes, fuel , materials that are stronger than wood . make rope, the paper the Declaration was drafted on. What does Tobacco give us.?????? Cancer, Death.!

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