A McKenzie County judge will decide whether to dismiss criminal charges against a tobacco shop owner who says he was wrongfully arrested for selling merchandise containing a chemical derivative of the hemp plant.
Falesteni Abuhamda appeared Wednesday in Northwest District Court in Watford City, where his attorney argued that charges against him are baseless and should be dropped.
Abuhamda was charged in May after the Northwest Narcotics Task Force raided his Tobacco Depot stores in Alexander and Watford City. Agents seized products containing CBD, or cannabidiol, a substance found in the hemp plant.
Abuhamda is facing charges of delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class A felony; possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class B felony; possession of hashish, a Class C felony; manufacturing of drug paraphernalia, a Class C felony; two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
In court Wednesday, Deanna Longtin, Abuhamda’s attorney, insisted that CBD is not listed as a controlled substance under state law.
“When they went into my client’s stores they were looking for products that had CBD in them and CBD is not illegal,” she said.
Abuhamda has maintained that hemp derivatives in his products came from industrial hemp plant, which is legal to grow in North Dakota, although the process is heavily regulated. Derivatives from the mature plant’s stalks are not illegal, but those from the flowers and other parts are, LaMonte Jacobson, a forensic scientist with the state crime lab, testified during the hearing.
“It’s not possible for the state to prove their case; it’s not possible to prove what parts of the plant