(WEHT) It is an apparent case of mistaken identity in western Kentucky. A couple, who once farmed in Hopkins County, is taking state officials to court after they say police destroyed their harvest.
Kendall and Nathan Lee grew hemp on a farm in western Hopkins County farm a few years ago.
“We did everything by hand. We didn’t have all that expensive machinery, none of that,” said Kendall Lee.
But the lees claim more than 750 plants were wrongfully burned in 2019. They say a hunter saw the hemp in the barn, thought it was marijuana, called authorities, and the state police and other officials responded and destroyed the plants.
“We put too much into it, physically, financially, emotionally, there was no way we were going to let it go,” Lee said.
The lees filed a claim through the Kentucky State Board of Claims against Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Fish and wildlife, saying the agencies made no effort to verify what was in their barn. They claim the barn was registered with the state department of agriculture as an accepted place to store and dry hemp. The Lees add the hemp they were growing was below state THC limits, and that authorities should have verified with Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture that it was approved for hemp.
“It could have been as simple as this, ‘Hey,’ The Kentucky State Police need to pick up the phone, call the department of Agriculture, say ‘Hello, we’re at this location, we’re at these GPS coordinates. Are these GPS coordinates registered in your system with any hemp license?” Lee explained.
The Lees declined to say how much the hemp was valued at, but did say they had to resort to buying hemp from other farmers to make products. The farm where they grew it was sold after the incident.
We reached out to the agencies involved for comment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. and Kentucky Board of Claims declined to speak, saying the case is still pending litigation while KSP officials have yet to respond.
(This story was originally published on February 16, 2022)