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Hemp plants swiped from Moretown farm

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 10:36 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - More than $6,000 worth of CBD hemp plants are missing from a Moretown farm.

Jenna Rossbach runs Fancy Plants Farm in Moretown. In the spring, she sells starter kits for home growers and then plants whatever she doesn’t sell. That includes CBD plants.

“In the past few years I have been offering CBD seedlings alongside of my vegetable seedlings,” said Rossbach.

But this past week she says she woke up to find all 50 of her CBD plants gone.

“Monday I came out to pick tomatoes and noticed all the hemp plants were gone,” said Rossbach.

Police are investigating and believe the thieves used a large pickup truck to take the plants.

On the property near the garden, Rossbach has signage saying it’s hemp to deter people who might think it’s marijuana. She also has a security camera, but it didn’t catch the criminals in action.

She believes that whoever stole the plants, had a plan.

“The plants are all cut off with loppers. They exited in a hidden way. They had to have an escape route planned with transportation for a large amount of plant material,” said Rossbach.

At harvest time, it’s estimated that the plants would have fetched around $6,000, but Rossbach says they were picked too early to be worth anything.

“That’s one of the things that’s most annoying about this theft, the plants were three to four weeks from being really ready to harvest,” said Rossbach.

Stephanie Smith is with the Agency of Agriculture and is the manager of the state’s hemp program. She says they don’t keep track of hemp thefts, but when they do happen, she encourages farmers to report it.

“At this point in time particularly because the crops are coming into flower and there is a distinctive scent associated with hemp,” said Smith.

When it comes to what happened in Moretown, she says it is unique because most of the time the thefts are just a few plants that are uprooted and mistaken for marijuana.

“This particular theft is unusual because of the nature of it. The entire crop was stolen, my understanding was that it was 50 plants and they were cleared from the ground,” said Smith.

Back at the farm, Rossbach looks to the future. And next year she plans to add more cameras and lights.

“We are going to have to start again next year,” said Rossbach

Vermont State Police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

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