A Rensselaer County hemp farm and distributor is suing a Colorado seed seller, claiming a business deal went up in smoke after the company sold it batches of largely defective seeds.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Berlin-based HempChain Farms LLC claims it ordered 200,000 industrial hemp seeds with the promise of a 90 percent germination rate from the seller, Colorado-based Organic Growers LLC and its owner, Kenneth Sack. But when HempChain received the shipment, it said the actual germination rate was less than 30 percent, the complaint alleges.
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant widely used for industrial purposes and the production of cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive compound that does not produce a high when ingested.
Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Sack said he was unaware of the lawsuit. He did not respond to a request for comment after the Times Union emailed him a copy of the complaint. Paul Freeman, an attorney for HempChain, also did not respond to an inquiry about the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, filed Tuesday, a HempChain representative visited Sack's Colorado farm in May. The representative told Sack that HempChain wanted to buy feminized seeds with the intention of redistributing them to farmers across New York.
During the visit and in follow-up phone calls with HempChain, Sack promised that 90 percent of the seeds would germinate based on testing he conducted, according to the complaint. HempChain ordered 200,000 seeds.
Once HempChain discovered the seeds were of a poor quality, Sack sent another 90,000 seeds, according to the complaint.
"However, once again, the replacement seeds were inferior in quality, immature in development, overabundant with dormant seeds, riddled with less productive male and hermaphrodite seeds, and yielded germination rates well below the 90% represented by the defendants," the complaint said.
The complaint does not say how much the shipments were worth or how many other New York farmers may have relied on the distribution. The complaint does say, however, that HempChain and other farmers lost up to 75 percent of their crop. Costs to the farmers also included manpower to remove some of the male plants included in the batch and loss of revenue from CBD oil that was supposed to be produced by the batch.
The complaint requests damages in excess of $75,000.