An Alabama hemp store called Bohemian Rhapsody was raided on June 24 for selling clothing made from hemp, hemp seed treats, and other hemp products. Now the owners, a young couple, may lose their store, the custody of their two baby children, and their freedom.
Jeff Russell and then-pregnant Angela Guilford had been running their hemp store in Hoover, Alabama for 7 months before the police burst in with a warrant for “marijuana”, and proceeded to confiscate hemp clothing, sterile hemp-seed treats, and other hemp products. No “paraphernalia” or buds were found on the premises, yet two weeks later the couple were charged with “trafficking in marijuana”.
Backwater politics and police tyranny are conspiring to destroy the once-happy hempsters, while local DA David Barber points to Alabama law as justification for the raid. Although the federal definition of marijuana clearly excludes stalks, fiber, and sterilized seeds, local law fails to differentiate between marijuana the smokable euphoriant (derived from cannabis flowers) and hemp the fibrous raiment (derived from cannabis stalk).
Woody Harrelson, famous American actor and hemp activist, successfully challenged a similar law in Kentucky, on the basis that it was too vague and therefore unconstitutional. Yet Alabama Governor Fob James claims that the constitution of the United States does not apply in Alabama, so another set of trials will have to be held for Russell and Guilford. If found guilty, Alabama law allows for their children to be made wards of the state.
The arrests have destroyed business for Bohemian Rhapsody. They have been reduced to selling only non-hemp products and are nearly bankrupt, faced with the prospect of losing each other, their children, and their livelihood. Locals are afraid of police reprisals in a state where evidently even the constitution doesn’t apply, and they have stopped buying. Russell and Guilford’s only employee has also been scared off by police harassment.
Eighteen other stores in the immediate area ? including Walmart and certain feed stores ? continue to sell hemp products without police intervention.
Contact Angela Guilford and Jeff Russell at Bohemian Rhapsody, 1654 Montgomery Highway, Hoover,
Alabama 35216, USA; tel (205) 979-2337; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Send donations to: Defense Fund, c/o Ralph Bowen, Suite 134, 3928 Montclair Rd, Mountainbrook, Alabama 35213, USA
Governor Fob James can be reached by email at: email@example.com