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Beaver Dam pair may have thought hemp they stole from farm was marijuana, police say

Beaver Dam pair may have thought hemp they stole from farm was marijuana, police say


A Beaver Dam couple was arrested Thursday after attempting to steal industrial hemp plants from a Columbia County farm that police believe they mistook for marijuana.

According to a press release from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, a landowner in the town of Springvale called to report interupting two people taking hemp plants from a field where they were being legally grown. The landowner was able to obtain a license plate from the vehicle the suspects were driving.

The landowner reported there was a previous theft and about a dozen plants had been taken.

Beaver Dam Police Department assisted a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Detective in contacting the two suspects. Accoring to the release, the suspects admitted to stealing the hemp on two occasions, believing the plants were illegal marijuana plants. The suspects allowed investigators to recover approximately 10 pounds of stolen hemp valued at approximately $1,000.

Barbara Vant Hoff, 59, and Gregory Vant Hoff, 64, were taken into custody by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Beaver Dam Police Department. They are currently at the Columbia County Jail awaiting a court appearance.

They are being referred to the Columbia County District Attorney's Office for two counes of misdemeanor theft, two felony counts of criminal damage to property and two counts of trespassing.

In 2017, the federal government allowed states to create a pilot research program permitting people to cultivate industrial hemp. The substance remained banned in Wisconsin until the state Department of Justice ruled in May 2018 that farmers could grow industrial hemp under the pilot program and that stores could sell CBD produced in compliance with regulations set by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Hemp plants also commonly are used for grain and fiber.

This is not the first time someone attempted to steal hemp from a Columbia County farm. Last fall a Madison man was arrested after his vehicle became stuck in a hemp field in the town of Columbus.

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