Virginia Trying Field Test To Differentiate Hemp And Marijuana

Sep 3, 2019

Credit Department of Forensic Science / State Of Virginia

Governor Kristi Noem says she’s concerned legalizing industrial hemp production will put law enforcement at a disadvantage.

She says police officers are unable to distinguish between hemp and marijuana on the road.

However, the Commonwealth of Virginia says it’s in the process of validating a field test to distinguish between the two.

Governor Noem says prosecutors in Texas have dropped hundreds of marijuana cases now that the state’s new industrial hemp law is in effect.

She says they’ve stopped accepting new cases until much more detailed testing is done.

Current USDA rules say states cannot prevent transportation of hemp. The federal threshold is .3 percent THC—the intoxicant compound found in hemp’s cousin marijuana.

Officials with the state lab in South Dakota say they are unable to determine how much THC is present in a plant.

Because of that, Noem says South Dakota must lead by example and not rush into legalizing industrial hemp without knowing the cost the state will pay.

But Virginia’s Department of Forensic Science says its found a field test kit that has the potential to differentiae between industrial hemp from marijuana.

Commonwealth officials could not be reached for comment. Matthew Schwiech, deputy director at the marijuana policy project and worked on…

He says it’s important all states have processes to determine THC levels of hemp.

“We’re seeing the hemp industry and CBD industry grow fairly dramatically across the country,” Schweich says. “That means hemp is being transported across the country through states without hemp laws. I think it behooves policy makers in every state to ensure that their authorities and their labs have the ability to differentiate.”

According to an article by the Virginia Mercury, the Department of Forensic Science is distributing 15,000 new field tests for a total cost of $52,500.

That’s about $3.50 per test.