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We have an insured with an HO3 policy and she has filed a theft claim for 350 pounds of hemp that she had stored in her home. She claims that the state Department of Agriculture, state police and the local sheriff conspired to steal her hemp worth a large amount of money that she had been growing to sell. She had previously held a hemp license in 2018 and 2019 when she grew this. However, she did not renew her license in 2020. She argues that she should not need a license and argues that federal law allows her to do this and that this seizure was illegal.

According to the state dept. of agriculture, as an unlicensed person, she no longer has the legal right to possess this property even if she did grow it while she was licensed and this was a government seizure/confiscation and the hemp has since been destroyed. We asked her to submit a police report documenting her “theft” but she has been unable to obtain one for obvious reasons as the agencies she is trying file a theft report with are the same ones that seized the property. Under coverage C – named perils and “Theft” is the only applicable one. We do not believe that the police or government seizure of property that the authorities say is illegal constitutes a theft. This was taken by government entities who purport to have a legal right to seize and destroy the property and who allege that the insured had no legal right to possess the property. It was taken by a known entity and taken to a secure location and held for evidence until it was destroyed. It appears to be no different than police seizure of illegal drugs like meth or cocaine. We would never consider paying an insured’s claim for street value when the police “stole” his cocaine stash. We believe that this should be a denial of coverage.

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