Virginia is one of the first states that is able to tell hemp from marijuana in the field. The Virginia Department of Forensic Science purchased 16,150 kits that accomplish this and is distributing them to law enforcement agencies in the state. The officer in the field will first use the existing test, the “Duquenois-Levine field test”, to determine if suspect plant material is actually cannabis. (Hemp and marijuana are two different forms of cannabis.) The new test will then be used to determine whether the cannabis is hemp or marijuana. The video below was produced to instruct local law enforcement agencies in the process.
Interestingly, North Carolina has taken a totally different approach to the problem of distinguishing hemp from marijuana. They simply outlawed “smokable hemp.” The new North Carolina law could go into effect in December of 2020. Hemp was made federally legal with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Virginia and North Carolina have diverged politically in recent years, and this different approach to a Federally legal plant highlights these differences.
These new test kits are not perfect. There is no way to tell what will happen if they test the new CBG hemp flower (which contains no CBD and a tiny amount of THC). There is no test for CBG “plant material.” Hemp may be a moving target as new cannabinoids are targeted by seed companies, but the Virginia test kits are a step forward – especially compared to North Carolina’s approach. If prohibition is overturned this may be a moot point in the future.