A Brooklyn business owner says the NYPD seized $30,000 worth of legal hemp meant for his CBD business, then publicized the arrest as a major marijuana bust, despite knowing they had the wrong herb.
On Tuesday, the NYPD posted a photo to their official Twitter account showing two cops proudly posing with what they said was 106 pounds of marijuana destined for city streets. They touted the confiscation as the result of “precision policing.” But according to John Dee, a licensed recovery specialist and the owner of Green Angel CBD, the substance is 100% hemp flower used to make CBD oil.
“It’s crazy,” Dee told Gothamist. “All the legal documents are in the package. But the officer said, ‘I don’t care about the paperwork. I don’t want to look at it.’ The cop didn’t want to do his work. He saw all that hemp and thought he had the luckiest day of his life.”
Officers Greenidge and Ganshaw from the @NYPD75Pct used precision policing and relentless follow-up, along with a great working relationship with @FedEx and other local law enforcement officials, to confiscate 106 pounds of marijuana that was destined for our city streets. pic.twitter.com/OnRyLsH90D
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 5, 2019
After seizing the shipment, police officers with Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct called Dee and told him he could come pick up his product. Recovering from a recent appendix surgery, Dee sent his brother, Ronan Levy, who owns That Pet Cure, a CBD company marketed toward animals. But when Levy arrived at the station house, he was arrested and thrown in a cell.
Court records show that Levy was charged with six counts of marijuana possession, then released without bail. The criminal complaint states that Officer Rodney Greenidge, who made the arrest, “has had professional training as a police officer in the identification of marihuana…and the substance in this case possesses the same physical characteristics.” It claims that a field test confirmed the substance to be pot.
According to Dee, cops are using a test from the 1960s, which does not differentiate between different amounts of THC. New York has maintained that hemp, and its CBD extract, is legal as long it contains under .3 percent of THC. A third-party found the package contained .14 THC, according to documents shared with the Post.
The shipment was initially flagged by Vermont state police, who then released it to FedEx after determining it was not illicit, the business owner said.
“The cops knew this because they talked to the Vermont police,” Dee claims. “I think it was a gung-ho FedEx driver who’d wanted to become a cop. He tells the police, and they ignored the fact that we did have the documents. He figures he’ll put it through anyway and let the courts deal with it, collect his overtime and his collar.”
The NYPD did not immediately answer our questions about how they tested the alleged “marihuana.” A spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office would not comment on the case.
For now, police are holding onto the mystery grass. Dee says his CBD business, which he’s owned for six years, may be forced to close if he doesn’t receive the $30,000 shipment soon. He plans on filing a lawsuit against the NYPD and FedEx.
“I’m a legitimate business owner,” said Dee. “I help people lead better lives.”