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Police: Men stole hemp plants mistaken for marijuana

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SPRING HOPE — Police recently arrested two men who allegedly thought they had stolen illicit marijuana plants, but instead had unearthed and bagged a legal hemp crop.

Officer J. Wilson made a traffic stop Oct. 27 on South Walnut Street due to a strong odor of marijuana wafting from a vehicle and found two trash bags full of what looked like marijuana plants in the trunk, said Police Chief Nathan Gant.

Robert Richardson, 21, and Cody Carpenter, 22, were charged with two counts of trafficking and other drug offenses. Bell later interviewed the duo and learned they stole the plants from a farm in Franklin County. He tracked down the location to discover the plants they thought were marijuana was actually legally grown hemp, which is non-intoxicating Cannabis harvested for industrial use.

The drug charges were dropped and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office charged both men with larceny of ungathered crops, which is a felony under N.C. General Statute 14-78.

Gant provided information on the incident along with other cases investigated last month to the town board at its most recent November meeting.

• Officer N. Barbour and Detective T. Bell responded Oct. 1 to a domestic disturbance call at a house on the 800 block of East Nash Street. A woman at the home appeared to have been assaulted. Gerald Wilder, 69, was charged with assault on a female.

• Bell stopped a speeding vehicle on Oct. 10. Jules Thomas, 31, was arrested on a charge of driving with a suspended license. He’s had four other counts for the same charge since July.

• Officer D. Radford responded to a domestic dispute call at a home on the 300 block of Rosin Hill Lane. Justin Wright, 26, was charged with assault on a female. Shalonda Peace, 29, was charged with assault. The duo were given a 48 hour domestic hold in the Nash County Detention Center for allegedly assaulting each other.

• Bell investigated a vehicle theft from Denton Automotive on Oct. 17. Kody Radford, 16, was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, two counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle and two counts of larceny from a motor vehicle. He’s also accused of discarding two sets of keys in the woods. Bell located one set of keys the night of the incident. K-9 Jax located the other set of keys Oct. 21.

• The Nash County Sheriff’s Office asked Spring Hope police on Oct. 23 to be on the lookout for a vehicle that left the scene of a domestic disturbance off Dalmar Road outside Spring Hope. Bell located and stopped the vehicle on Nash Street. Deputies charged the woman with driving while impaired and three counts of child endangerment since three children younger than 10 were in the vehicle. Gant didn’t have further details since it was the county’s investigation.

• Wilson stopped a vehicle on Oct. 25 and charged Frank Jefferies Jr., 38, with driving on a suspended license. Wilson allegedly found a bag of Ecstasy pills in plain sight and also charged Jefferies with possession of a Schedule I controlled substance.

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