New Police Drug Test Aims to Tell Pot From CBD - NBC4 Washington
With the rise in use of CBD to treat ailments from anxiety to arthritis, police across the U.S. now have a problem: Commonly used drug field tests can’t tell the difference between legal hemp products and marijuana.
But the News4 I-Team has learned a new test developed by forensic chemists in Switzerland could help keep American CBD users out of legal trouble.
Area police have yet to deploy the new test, which was just made available in the U.S. in June. But the I-Team, the first news outlet in the U.S. to obtain and try out the Swiss kits, has learned Virginia is now evaluating the test to see whether it’s a suitable replacement for the current drug field kits used by law enforcement in the Commonwealth.
Virginia’s chief forensic scientist told the I-Team that her department, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, is testing samples “so that we can understand the limitations of that test.”
Linda Jackson has warned the state’s prosecutors and law enforcement about the old tests’ limitations, but as of now, they are still the only kits her agency has approved for use by law enforcement.
“Those regulations would need to be altered to include the use of another test,” Jackson told the I-Team in a May interview, adding that it could happen an upcoming meeting of the state’s oversight board.
The test, which police in Zurich developed after Swiss law changed in recent years to allow hemp with up to 1% THC, only recently became available in the U.S. And it comes as law enforcement across the country grapples with evolving CBD laws.
After federal statute changed with the 2018 Farm Bill to allow for hemp-derived CBD products with up to 0.3% of THC – the chemical that can produce a high – states including Virginia, Florida and Ohio followed suit.
In March, Virginia changed the definition of marijuana to mirror federal law. Now, Virginia allows for “finished” hemp-derived products, such as CBD, as long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Marijuana remains illegal.
But as the I-Team first reported in May, some CBD users have been arrested because popular police field tests are designed to detect cannabinoids, which include both hemp and marijuana.
The I-Team has interviewed multiple people who said they were detained or arrested after their CBD products tested positive for marijuana in the disposable police field test.
They include Michael, a Virginia man who asked News4 not to use his last name, who was detained last year during a police raid of a Washington, D.C., party where others were selling marijuana. While D.C. legalized marijuana possession in small amounts, it’s illegal to sell it.
Read more: nbcwashington.com