Minnesota Lab Figures Out How to Tell Between Legal Hemp and Illegal Marijuana
by Dale Chappell
Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Minnesota, but recreational use is not. This causes problems for the state’s Hemp Pilot program, which licenses growers of hemp as long as the THC concentration stays below 0.3 percent. If the THC is greater than that, it’s considered marijuana, and it constitutes a crime.
“Since a hemp plant and a marijuana plant are the same species of plant, they would yield the same results” in a lab test for THC, the Midwest Regional Forensic Laboratory at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “This made our job difficult as we were unable to determine if an item was from a hemp plant or a marijuana plant with our current methods of testing.”
The lab has figured out a way to differentiate the THC in a hemp plant from a marijuana plant.
The new testing method, which went live March 25, 2020, gives law enforcement and prosecutors scientifically valid information that they need to either arrest someone for possessing marijuana or, much more importantly, not to arrest them if they are merely possessing legal hemp.
Since hemp can be used to make everything from food to lotions to sandals, there have been no regulations on the sale of hemp products. Being able to determine the THC purity level of a product gives law enforcement and the public more control over what’s being done with hemp products, some say.
“The Midwest Regional Forensic Laboratory is the first of eight accredited and publicly funded labs” to begin quantitative cannabis testing in the state, according to the publication Forensic.
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