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The Cannabis Catch-Up: NYC to Drop Charges Filed in Vermont Hemp Case


Published November 22, 2019 at 5:37 p.m.

  • New York Police Department
  • Whoops
It was a case of mistaken canna-dentity.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office says it will drop felony drug charges filed against a New York City man who was busted earlier this month when he picked up a shipment of dank Vermont — hemp.

Ronen Levy had faced up to 20 years in prison if he’d been convicted of the most serious charge. Instead, prosecutors will drop the charges at his next court appearance, on December 2. Once that happens, the New York Police Department should release the 106 pounds of hemp it seized from Levy on November 3.

But Levy’s brother, Oren, isn’t convinced. He mistrusts the department for taking the legitimate agricultural product and ignoring paperwork that showed it was hemp. To add insult to injury, the NYPD’s 75th Precinct made a show of the seizure, claiming on social media that officers had kept marijuana off city streets.

“This guy thought he had the bust of his life, the arresting officer,” Oren told Seven Days. “He covered up everything possible just to make it look like he had the bust of his life.”

In reality, Oren, who runs Green Angel CBD in Brooklyn, had purchased legal hemp from Fox Holler Farm in New Haven, Vt. Oren said he sent his brother to pick it up because he was resting up after an emergency appendectomy.
Ronen ended up behind bars, slapped with a felony, and the cops seized the product, for which Oren had already paid about $18,000.

“I’m a little scared it’s going to go bad,” Oren said. “They’re damn well not putting it in a temperature-controlled room. Who knows how many bags they opened up and left open. These guys don’t give a shit.”

Oren’s already planning to take legal action against the NYPD and FedEx. It was one of the delivery service’s drivers who reported the stash to authorities — despite the fact that Vermont cops had cleared the shipment as legit.

Oren said he thought publicity around the case would improve business — but it hasn’t.

“People are scared to buy from us,” he said. Now,“people don’t know what to expect when they buy from us.”

Here are some other stories we’ve followed recently:

November 13: A federal judge fined a Vermont man $10,000 and sentenced him to three years of probation for buying a kilo of weed in Maine with the intention of bringing it back to the Green Mountain State. [Christopher Williams, Sun Journal]

November 13: Michigan dispensaries could begin selling adult-use marijuana by December 1, months before originally expected. [Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press]

November 14: Guy Laliberte, a Canadian billionaire who cofounded Cirque du Soleil, has been arrested for growing weed on his private island in French Polynesia. [Morgan Winsor, ABC News]

November 14: California authorities released video footage of suspects in the murder of a tech entrepreneur who’d recently started a cannabis manufacturing business. [Brittany Shammas, the Washington Post]

November 15: A new poll found that only 8 percent of Americans think that weed should be completely illegal. That’s a sharp drop from the 15 percent who felt that way in 2016. The Pew Research Center data show that 78 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans support legalization. [Christopher Ingraham, the Washington Post]

November 15: Chicago officials used this “steam punk bingo drum” to pull names for its cannabis dispensary lottery. [John Byrne, Twitter]

November 20: A new book chronicles the exploits of Vermonters Billy Greer and Steve Hutchins, who were arrested in 1991 for smuggling 120 tons of Pakistani hashish into Canada. At the time, it was the largest cannabis bust in Vermont and Canada's history. [Ken Picard, Seven Days]

November 20: One year into legalized adult-use cannabis sales, Massachusetts retailers say they can’t get enough product to stay stocked and are battling a still-strong illicit market. [Nancy Eve Cohen, Vermont Public Radio]

November 21: Illinois could grow some 1 million pounds of weed by 2025, which would make it one of the top cannabis-producing states in the country. [Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune]

November 21: The U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that “would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, allow states to set their own marijuana policy and require federal courts to expunge prior convictions for marijuana offenses.” This is a pretty significant development. Now, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 moves to the full House for consideration. [Anna Gunther, CBS News]

Looking ahead: The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is hosting an event on Thursday, December 5, called “Conversation About Cannabis: Lessons From Our Neighbors.” As the name implies, the event will include panelists from Maine and Massachusetts who will chat about legalization issues and observations from their respective states. There are plenty of locals on the panel, too. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in Burlington City Hall. [Facebook]

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