Federal legalization of hemp arrived in the U.S. in late 2018, it expanded an industry which is already skyrocketing the market with extensive market shares and growing popularity of CBD infused products for the consumer market.
Congress put the marijuana look-alike squarely under the legal hood which has been creating a bit of a chaos in the hemp industry with an unsettled development.
Truckers can now carry hemp from one state to another without any legal implications, however, they have been stopped and sometimes even arrested by police who couldn’t identify whether the substance in possession was hemp or marijuana. The only way to differentiate between hemp and marijuana is by determining the amount of tetrahydro cannabinol or THC, which the officers can not identify because they don’t have that kind of technology at hand.
The U.S. Government allows hemp with none or as little as 0.3 percent THC under the federal law set for legal marijuana. Any substance that exceeds the 0.3 percent mark can potentially make a person high which still falls under the illegal category and hence can be arrested for the same. Drug sniffer dogs will alert the police if they identify such hemp. But still the question of identifying between hemp and a low potency illegal pot remains intact.
In lieu of this, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration earlier this month requested on information from private companies that could have the technology for field tests that are sensitive enough to distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
“Nobody wants to see someone in jail for a month for the wrong thing,” DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said. “To enable us to do our job, we have to have something that can help us distinguish.”
It is an unanticipated issue for the rapidly booming hemp industry which relies on the interstate transportation of hemp from farms to the processing labs that extract the cannabidiol or CBD for further consumer usage. The pure CBD then extracted can be used by several companies to incorporate it in their products.
Kentucky and Oregon are one of the largest produces of hemp, and much of their raw material is processed in Colorado. Companies that transport the plant often have to drive through Idaho and Oklahoma, which is where frequent arrests have been made for hemp transportation.
Hemp remains illegal under Idaho law, and lawmakers are struggling to pass a bill for it. Several law agencies have suggested to include stringent rules for hemp usage and have guidance on field tests.
The issue goes far with the extensive timeline that would occur as the states that already have their hemp programs must have them approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would probably take months if not till next year.
Grant Loebs, who is on the board of directors of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association said after demanding for better testing of hemp “It’s the greatest example of the cart being put before the horse that I’ve ever thought of. You’re trying to make hemp legal so farmers can grow it, but you haven’t put into place anything that’s going to keep marijuana dealers from taking advantage of a huge loophole.”
Thousands of pounds of legal hemp worth more than $2 million combined after processing remains locked up in the warehouses of Oklahoma and Idaho as evidence while the cases still remain pending. At least 3 truckers and 2 security guards have been arrested and charged with for felony drug trafficking who were carrying state-certified hemp.
Robinson who represents one of the companies involved in the Oklahoma case says that the local law enforcement is intervening with the decision made by Congress to support and promote American farmers and the American economy.
Robinson and other people hope for the U.S. Drug Administration to work quickly on the issue at present and create rules for validating hemp transportation like state agricultural certificates or lab certificates which could replace the THC field tests that consume more time.