Gray Terminology, Lack of Technology Cause Trouble for Hemp Shipments

by | Aug 20, 2019

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

The intent of the new law was to allow for struggling farmers to have access to a potent cash crop, hemp, but due to the lack of technology that can easily discern between hemp and cannabis, the state is struggling to justify spending on pursuing cannabis charges.

Similar stories are breaking out across the country in states such as Florida, which does not have the equipment or time to tell the difference between cannabis and hemp, and Ohio, which hopes to have adequate testing equipment within the year. Currently, the charge for cannabis possession in Columbus, Ohio, is $100 for possessing 100 grams or less.

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. Thus, many argue, to legalize hemp is to legalize cannabis. The US Government designates cannabis plants with below .3% THC as hemp, whereas crops with higher THC levels are deemed cannabis.

An Affordable Testing Method for States and Large Farms

The equipment state enforcement agencies need to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis are typically expensive and incredibly precise. Ionization Labs is a company spearheaded by a man who spent time as a cultivator, Cree Crawford. Their product, Cann-Id, is one of the few on the market which is highly affordable, effective, and versatile.

This product uses high-performance liquid chromatography, which is a method of analytical chemistry that separates the compounds in a substance to be studied and measured. For testing cannabinoid content, such as THC levels, this method is ideal. It is paired with a stripped-back software application that new users can learn within two hours.

With a minimal level of steps, Ionization Labs has created the ideal solution for state governments to use.  However, even though Ohio and other state police might become wise to these products, the Cann-Id isn’t only useful for the law. For those who aim to obey the law and only wish to grow hemp, there is a direct use, but all cultivators could benefit from this testing machine – even if it’s only to prove the validity of their hemp crop.

Stories from This Year Concerning Hemp in America

Discussed in last week’s editorial, two years ago Kansas authorities seized 350 pounds of what they considered the be cannabis at the time. The shipment was in the back of a FedEx semi-truck, which had originated in Colorado and was on its way to California. It headed the wrong way and entered Kansas instead of heading west through Utah.

Although official state paperwork from Colorado confirmed the substance was .3% THC or lower, making it hemp as stipulated by Colorado law, Lt. Josh Biera from the Kansas police department swore, in an affidavit, the shipment gave off “an extremely strong odor of marijuana,” which allowed them to seize the product.

Now, after two years of holding the product, it has all rotted and cannot be used by the owners to make a profit. Kansas has still yet to test the product and refuses any option by Colorado or the owners of the hemp to check it, as they will not ship any of it. They consider the product cannabis, and so it is illegal to send it across state lines. Each pound is worth an estimated $35-$40.

In the state of Kansas, the only body they have to test cannabis is at the Kansas Department of Agriculture. However, as an administrative and regulatory body, it doesn’t want to be involved in a criminal case. A warrant remains active for the arrest of one of the owners of the shipment in every state except Colorado.

A similar situation occurred in Idaho. Even though 7000 pounds of product Idaho seized was tested and came back positive for being hemp, they still stated that they planned to impound and sell everything involved in the case, hemp, truck, and trailer.

Another option states have in this situation is to accept the legalization of both cannabis and hemp and to incorporate them into the farming market as what they are: lucrative agricultural crops.

Only time will tell which direction the regulations will take. Will cannabis soon become legal across the board, or will enforcement agencies need to invest in the proper equipment to accurately tell the difference between the various forms of cannabis?