Greek billionaire and heir to the Coca-Cola fortune, Alkiviades “Alki” David, was recently arrested attempting to fly out of the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in Saint Kitts-Nevis, an island in the Caribbean, with 5,000 plants stowed away in his private jet.

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According to the International Business Times, the plants in question are not actually cannabis, but are, in fact, hemp. According to an emailed statement from Owen Phillips, David’s representative, he was “briefly detained at the airport and then allowed to go, with all the hemp.”

Estimated to be worth at least £2.6 billion, David was released on bail earlier this week for EC$300,000, or around US$100,000, following multiple charges for “possession, intent to supply, and importation of $1.3 million worth of cannabis.”

Hemp, Not Cannabis

For those that aren’t already experts on the subject, hemp and cannabis are two different plants with vastly different properties. Cannabis is high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component that gets you stoned, while hemp primarily contains cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound responsible for the calming, anti-inflammatory effects associated with hemp and the consumption of CBD.

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Even more importantly, though, hemp is legal in all 50 states and in many countries across the world. 

cannabis medical cannabis farm in Unaited States of America, and Canada iStock / Yarygin

Cannabis, on the other hand, is a Schedule I narcotic, with no recognized medical benefit, the possession and consumption of which is punishable by law, at least according to the U.S. government. Many other countries around the globe have similarly restrictive laws regarding marijuana possession and use, including St. Kitts. 

David claims that the plants were hemp, not cannabis, intended for legal transport to be processed into CBD.

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Another occupant of the plane, Hollywood actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was also arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession.

David allegedly met with Prime Minister Harris at the Park Hyatt Hotel following his release from jail. When questioned about the meeting, however, David declined to elaborate any further about what, exactly, had transpired in his conversation with the Prime Minister.

Said David in a press conference held Monday at the St. Kitt’s Marriott Resort, “What he’s [Prime Minister Harris] done is illegal, it’s wrong and it’s unconscionable. I took on four of the biggest companies in the United States and I beat them after seven years of lawsuits, just out of principle, nothing else, because they called me a liar. Mr. Harris here has a whole new thing coming at him.”

David did, however, go on to say, “So let me tell you, Mr. Harris, what’s gonna go down. There are three lawyers here from the UK and they’re gonna take you down, Sir; you don’t do that to me or my friend.”

David has recently been involved in even more serious scandal, with several of his employees having sued him for sexual harassment. David, however, maintains his innocence. Said his spokesperson in a statement to People magazine, “Mr. David denies all of Ms. Jones’s allegations including her allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. David will be filing an appeal to reverse what he believes was an unfair and unjust judgement.”