A New York man is facing felony drug manufacturing charges after Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers found hundreds of plants and liquid THC in his car during a traffic stop early this month on Interstate 70 in Cooper County.

Kevin Hatt, 53, of Manhattan, New York, was driving a black Cadillac eastbound on I-70 in Cooper County at 10 p.m. on June 1. Highway Patrol Sgt. Steven Johnson was driving behind Hatt and saw him maintain two car lengths behind another car in the right lane of the highway from the 98 to 100 mile markers, he wrote in a probable cause statement.

Johnson saw Hatt move into the left lane and speed up to 74 mph, while the speed limit on that section of the highway is 70 mph, the trooper wrote. Johnson pulled Hatt over near the 103 mile marker, he wrote.

While walking up to speak to Hatt, Johnson saw what he believed to be marijuana plants “in plain view,” he wrote. Hatt told Johnson the plants were hemp, but didn’t have any documentation showing how he got them, the trooper wrote. Industrial hemp producers and transporters are required to keep detailed records on their plants, including a manifest and chain of custody, Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White said.

Johnson searched the car and found 792 of the plants, two pounds of liquid THC, 30 grams of “processed” marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, he wrote. Johnson considered the marijuana and THC oil, along with Hatt’s lack of documentation for the plants, in deciding to arrest Hatt, said White in an email.

THC is the chemical that causes the “high” that comes from consuming marijuana. Marijuana and hemp are both forms of the cannabis plant, but hemp has a very small concentration of THC, and a higher concentration of CBD. Growing industrial hemp is legal in Missouri, but the process is heavily restricted by the state.

Hatt is charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, a class C felony that carries a sentence of 3-10 years if he is convicted. The charges were filed on Friday.

bcrowley@gatehousemedia.com