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Four men arrested for transporting "marijuana" plead not guilty; attorney argues it's hemp

Four men arrested for transporting "marijuana" plead not guilty; attorney argues it's hemp (KTUL)

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (KTUL) – The four men police said were behind the wheel of a semi-truck carrying about 20,000 pounds of “marijuana” appeared in front of a judge Tuesday.

Tadesse Deneke, Andrew Ross, David Dirksen and Farah Warsame all pleaded not guilty to two felony charges, aggravated trafficking and felony firearm.

RELATED | District Attorney: Government shutdown forces possible marijuana case into limbo

Matt Lyons represents Ross and Dirksen.

“My guys have proven to them they had nothing to do with the legal transportation of marijuana,” said Lyons.

Lyons argues they were carrying hemp, which is legal. He said the firearm they had was also legal and only became a felony when police called the plant product marijuana.

“The federal law says there is no difference between marijuana and hemp and the only difference is the quantity of the THC,” said Lyons. “They have been a part of the legal marijuana industry for a long time and they pivoted over to hemp because they knew there was a need and they knew they had the skills to provide security and transportation.”

“What I have is proof that these guys were an above board company who signed an above board contract to provide safety and security to what they believe a legal transportation of hemp. If it’s not hemp then I think the buyer and the seller would have issue."

Getting an answer right now as to what the plant substance is, isn’t happening. The lab results haven’t been processed. That’s because the DEA office that normally does the work is closed because of the government shut down.

“The problem is if they can’t determine it to be marijuana today they can’t press charges,” said Lyons. “If they can’t press charges, they can’t hold a truck and a mini van. They won’t even release these guys personal items right now so they are literally holding on to everything meanwhile we are providing as much mitigating evidence as I’ve ever provided in a case prior to any charges being filed. It’s just doing no good.”

Each man faced a bond of $20,00 for each felony offense, a total of $40,000.

Lyons said his clients bonded out Tuesday. They are due back in court on March 22, 2019 for their preliminary hearing.

At this time, Deneke and Warsame do not have an attorney but Lyons said they should have representation soon. They are due back in court on March 7, 2019 for their status conference.

Lyons would like to see this case dismissed.

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