Police in the United States are having a hard time telling the difference between cannabis and hemp — which poses some issues now that the farm bill made hemp legal across the country.
A recent report by The Associated Press found that truck drivers that are technically permitted to move hemp across state lines (which is something that is a very big no-no for marijuana), have run into issues with police, sometimes even being arrested for doing so.
The only way to know for sure whether it is legal hemp or not is determining whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are more than 0.3%. Hemp has very low amounts of THC and would fall at or below this mark. And so if the substance tested came in at higher than 0.3%, it would definitively prove that it is not hemp and that the substance is indeed illegal marijuana. The problem, however, is that officers in the field currently are only able to test for the presence of THC, and not the percentage contained in the substance. Even dogs trained to sniff out drugs wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
And while the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is looking at putting better technology in place to solve this issue, there’s no guarantee of when that might happen. Even if there was a perfect technology in place to do so, with hemp growing in popularity as a result of the farm bill, this would mean a lot more truckers are going to be moving it across State lines and that’s going to result in a lot of potential testing that will weigh down government resources even further.
– Barbara Carreno, DEA spokeswoman
In the meantime, drivers transporting hemp face the very real possibility of being charged because there is inadequate testing being done that can’t prove whether a substance is hemp or not. It puts the industry in a big predicament because it creates a lot of fear and ultimately it becomes easier for companies to just not ship any product out of State. If there’s a chance that a shipment gets flagged by an officer, there’s going to be the potential that it leads to legal problems.
The only solution is marijuana legalization
Until we see marijuana get legalized federally in the U.S., problems like these are only going to persist. It’s the only definitive way to ensure that shipments don’t get bogged down with testing having to be done because even if the technology were available to police out in the field, it’s still going to slow things down significantly.
This is a great example of why many big companies in the U.S. are still hesitant to get involved, even with the farm bill being passed. No one wants to get caught up in these types of problems and it’s easier to wait in the sidelines until everything is free and clear before getting involved.