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Hemp Seed Prosecution in Hawaii Ends in Mistrial


November-December 1997

The trial of hemp activist Aaron Anderson, who was charged with second-degree commercial promotion of marijuana ended in a mistrial (Crystal Kua, "Jury begins deliberating in pot trial," Hawaii Tribune Herald, October 8, 1997; Crystal Kua, "Hemp seed case ends in mistrial," Hawaii Tribune Herald, October 9, 1997).

Anderson was arrested after a drug sniffing dog discovered a Federal Express® package of a 25-pound shipment of hemp seeds that Anderson had ordered. Anderson contended that the seeds were sterile, but police officer Dennis De Morales testified that he grew marijuana plants from the seeds. Anderson's lawyer, Brian De Lima, said Anderson bought the seeds under the belief that the seeds were sterile. De Lima calculated that if the seeds Anderson ordered were fertile, they should have been worth between $500,000 and 2.8 million, but Anderson paid $72 for the shipment.

Jury foreman Wayne Whiteside said that the jury was deadlocked, 9-3 in favor of acquittal. Whiteside said, "If you order marijuana, who would send $2 million worth of seeds across the ocean for less than $100." Deputy Prosecutor, Kay Iopa, said that she has not decided whether to retry Anderson.

Anderson and Roger Christie, a former co-defendant, have filed a $3 million federal lawsuit against the county charging their prosecution was politically motivated. Anderson told NewsBriefs that the trial date has been set for July 1998.

Aaron Anderson - Route 2, Box 4875, Pahoa, HI 96778, Tel: (808) 965-0300.