Local hemp farmer tired of getting burned by thieves

Hemp farmer dealing with thieves who think they're stealing marijuana

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - Some Kentucky hemp farmers are dealing with a new menace to crops -- thieves.

Elizabethtown police have seen an increase in cases. They want to warn criminals that it may look like marijuana, but it won't get you high. But if you get caught stealing, the punishment could be just as severe.

Thieves haven't been a problem for Jimmy Jenkins at Highland Sod Farms in Hardin County for the past 25 years, but ever since he started growing a new crop this summer, that has changed.

"It's been pretty wild," Jenkins said. "People have been coming in all over the farm, and they're sneaking in different directions ... I guess they're taking them home and eating them or something."

The thing about hemp is that it looks like marijuana. And It smells like marijuana. But it's not going to get you high.

"These are bred so the THC is less than .03, so it's not got enough THC to do anything for you," Jenkins said.

"If we catch you in possession of hemp plants, it's basically the same as possession of marijuana," Officer John Thomas said. "Without a license, you cannot be in possession of it, you cannot cultivate it, you cannot market it."

Elizabethtown police are trying to nip it in the bud before the trend becomes more common.

"We support Kentucky farmers, and if we catch you stealing from Kentucky farmers, we are going to prosecute you," Thomas said.

"It's just really nice to have someone backing you and supporting you," Jenkins said.

With it already being a dry season, it's tough for Jenkins to stomach losing plants that cost a couple hundred dollars a piece.

"The cost of the plants is minimal compared to the labor put into it," he said, adding that he has more than 500 acres of hemp, and some ideas on how he's going to protect it. "Be prepared to be met with aggression."

Elizabethtown police said they’ll be keeping a close eye on local hemp fields, and since most of the thefts happen in fields that run along main roads, they’re asking the public to call in anything suspicious.