Friday, August 3, 2001

Hawaii County

Big Isle settles
with hemp advocates

Part of the $75,000 is planned
to go toward a hemp food banquet

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> The Hawaii County Council has agreed to pay two Big Island hemp advocates $75,000 to settle a lawsuit in which they accused the county prosecutor of violating their civil rights.

On a 6-3 vote, the Council agreed to the settlement this week with Aaron Anderson, 64, and Roger Christie, 52.

In 1991 the two ordered 25 pounds of sterilized hemp seed derived from a nonpotent form of the marijuana plant.

The seed came from a North Dakota distributor who legally imported it from China as bird food.

Police seized their shipment. Nearly a year later, they were indicted for marijuana possession. The case against Christie was eventually dropped. Anderson's case ended with a hung jury.

In pretrial documents, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officer told prosecutors that the seeds were legal under federal law.

Prosecutors maintained they were not legal under state law.

Anderson's attorney, Steven Strauss, pointed out that one state law says they are legal and another state law says they are not.

Reviewing the conflicting laws, U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that the seeds and related items like hemp textiles are legal.

In lawsuits against the county, Anderson and Christie said police and prosecutors unconstitutionally singled them out because they advocated marijuana legalization.

At one point in the 10-year series of cases, Deputy Prosecutor Kay Iopa told a judge her office would not prosecute a little old lady for possessing marijuana-related hemp seeds, but suggested the office would prosecute "a hemp grower that is very vocally, very outwardly advocating the legalization of marijuana."

No evidence was ever presented that Anderson or Christie were hemp growers.

On Wednesday, Anderson called Prosecutor Jay Kimura a "constitutional pervert" for pursuing the case.

Kimura declined to respond.

The biggest share of the settlement, $27,000, will go for legal expenses. Strauss will get $16,000. Christie, who was least involved, will get $12,000, and plans a hemp food banquet to which Kimura and Iopa will be invited.

Anderson will get $20,000. He says he will use some of it to fix his teeth.

Hawaii County

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