Suspects steal hemp plants, mistaken for marijuana

NOW: Suspects steal hemp plants, mistaken for marijuana


ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. --- People are stealing hemp plants from a local legal growing hemp business after mistaking the plants for marijuana. US Hemp Co. launched in 2019 and the business started harvesting in Indiana’s first legal hemp crop in 80 years.

Will Weaver, one of the founders at US Hemp Co., chased down two suspects in Elkhart County on October 17 after watching the suspects remove the hemp plants from one of the business’s fields.

There is no value in stealing the hemp plants and it only hurts business, according to Weaver.

“It just makes you feel violated,” said Weaver.

While ABC 57’s Brenda Koopsen worked on the story on Monday, yet another theft was reported at one of the other field locations.

That theft brought the total hemp plant thefts to three in Indiana alone. Between the customers US Hemp Co. harvests for and themselves, there were 11 days straight and approximately over 20 people put in jail over hemp thefts during the past few weeks, according to Weaver.

Each time the thieves are asked what they think they are stealing, they all said marijuana, according to Weaver.

“In reality, none of it is marijuana,” said Weaver. “All of it is below 0.3 THC level…so you could smoke the whole field, you’ll never get high,” explained Weaver.

Weaver told ABC 57 that there is no way anyone who steals the hemp plants can monetize it. Without a license and a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to display what is in the hemp, there is nothing that can be done with the plant, according to Weaver.

“There’s no value to it,” said Weaver. “It looks a little different, it smells different and there’s no value to them. They’re just taking money out of our pocket…that’s all they’re doing,” said Weaver.

On October 17, Weaver noticed two suspects pulling the hemp plants out of the ground while checking on one of his fields.

Weaver then chased the suspects by car through Kosciusko and Noble counties.

Police then caught up and the two suspects attempted to take off on foot, according to Weaver.

Only one of the suspects was caught. Quintin Castetter is now facing felony charges.

The hemp plants were returned to Weaver, but the on-going problem has not helped his new business.

“And it’s literally our livelihood out there,” said Weaver. “It’s not something we’re doing as a hobby. It’s literally our livelihood and we’ve got a lot on the line financially,” said Weaver.

ABC 57 did not release information on the location of the fields due to the on-going problem for the business.


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