Law enforcement officials bulldozed purported hemp fields near Arvin Monday after tests showed the plants were actually marijuana, according to people familiar with the multi-agency investigation.

In a potential setback to Kern County’s efforts to promote cultivation of industrial hemp, two people involved in production of the crop said law enforcement began knocking down plants over the weekend as part of a plan to destroy what was determined to be marijuana.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office declined Monday to comment on reports of crop destruction, saying only that it could not talk about what the agency has called an active investigation of hemp in the Arvin area.

Lance Dalton, a Bay Area hemp entrepreneur who has worked with other local growers of the plant, said he was told by law enforcement that some of the fields being destroyed were under contract by a local hemp researcher who had failed to register some local acreage.

Federal law permits qualified researchers to possess hemp that tests positive for marijuana but they may not process or sell it. They must also register with local authorities where the plant is growing and post signs saying it is industrial hemp.

Dalton said more than two dozen samples came up “hot,” meaning they tested above the 0.3-percent federal limit for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Some of the plants tested as high as 7 percent, he said, adding, “that’s basically marijuana.”

Hemp has become highly valuable in recent years because its oil is used to produce the popular cure-all known as CBD. The plant has other uses as well, including for cordage and animal bedding.

Bakersfield-area grower Pete Belluomini, who has worked with a registered local hemp researcher, confirmed local law enforcement has tested some of the crop he was contracted to grow “and determined (the plants) were over the legal limits and they asked that they be destroyed.”

He said some local fields were cleared over the weekend and that additional acreage was being cleared Monday.

With more than 7,000 registered acres in cultivation, Kern County has quickly emerged as a leading producer of hemp in California. One reason county officials say they support growing the plant is that it cross-pollinates with marijuana in a way that lowers the potency of pot.

Dalton, a consultant for a San Francisco company that processes hemp into CBD, said KCSO is working on the investigation with the FBI and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The FBI and the DFW last week referred calls about the possible destruction of purported hemp plants near Arvin to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, which said last week the investigation is a “pretty, pretty big investigation.” Spokespeople for the FBI and the DFW could not be reached for comment late Monday.

The county's agricultural commissioner declined last week to speak about the possible destruction of purported hemp, calling it a matter for law enforcement.

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.

(11) comments

Fram Smith

With the the exception of our payed Russia Trolls from Saint Petersburg that go by the single name REMUDA , ( I wish I could get payed to put cut and paste gibberish from the RT website ) , is there anyone who actually pays property taxes here in Kern County who wants law enforcement to focus on hemp , as opposed to say the opioid and homeless crisis ? 7% THC bud is rag

weed ; since bottom shelf weed is 15% THC. Yes , with a huge investment , the Arvin Hemp Farm could make honey oil for vaping. But all the evidence points to the fact , that this hemp farmer had no intention but to harvest and sell his crop in a legally prescribed manner. The taxpayers of Kern County payed how many 10' s of thousands of dollars to drive a hemp farmer into bankruptcy , as well as to drive the legal hemp industry out of Kern County forever ? In Southern Oregon , there are literally miles and miles of hemp being grown , supporting a lawful and taxed industry. No one cares or thinks twice about it . In the farming communities in which hemp is growing , it is a complete so what. We need to replace of Kern County Board of Supervisors with people who do not subscribe to a " Reefer Madness " mindset , and can embrace free market capitalism.

HeresJohnny

Truly a field of dreams...

Mrknowitall

I prefer to stay above the tawdry fray.

Seems just a business matter. Keep the THC levels that are allowed. Period. Class dismissed.

Vico17

Who thought it was a good idea to plant 180 acres of actual Weed one block away from Arvin High School? Call it what you will, kids making late night runs couldn't tell the difference, and were much "appreciated". I like to hear from local officials. Where are they now? Or, were they the ones pushing for this?

REMUDA

"Despite medical cannabis laws in 46 states, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811), which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis."

https://www.safeaccessnow.org/federal_marijuana_law (Illegal . . . !)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2uTFF_3MaA (Yellow Submarine . . . ? Roll yer own . . . ?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cueulBxn1Fw (Help . . . ! >> When & where it all began)

https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/marijuana-mental-illness-violence/ (Says it all . . . Mindless 'recreation' . . . !)

https://nifa.usda.gov/industrial-hemp (Still Illegal . . . and more dangerous than ever . . . as Donny well knows . . . !)

Yellowhammer

Kern County is so Stone Age.

All Star

Outstanding! Sounds like some weed grower was trying to circumvent the law by calling it hemp.

lrlopez74

So is there no actual crime going on in Kern County? All y'all's law enforcement seems like they have way too much time on their hands. Let them be useful and build some homeless shelters and drug treatment centers.

Anti-"drug" policing is BIG BUSINESS in this country. No different in Kern County.

ReefRanger

Why dont you grow a brain? Growing marijuana in commercial quantities IS a crime, you idiot! And even if you arent growing thousands of acres of it, there are LAWS governing how and where you can do it. It also requires permits and registration of your grow area, among other things. ICYMI, the FBI and the DEA are also involved.

Your anti police rants are tedious. Try learning something before you post any more of your stupidity.

Steelerman

You don't seem shy in flaunting your stupidity with your almost daily deluge of asinine and hateful remarks. It's obvious you read at a 4th grade level at best.

Moardeeb

Haha Haha. You can obstruct but weed is here to stay. Deal with it.

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