Why We Need a New THC Police Field Test

While thirty-three state legislatures have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in recent years, there has been a growing trend to use CBD as a safe and legal alternative.

However, as this trend sweeps the nation, several concerns have come to light. Reports are flooding in throughout the country of incidents where the standard field test utilized by police to test for THC in marijuana cannot distinguish between CBD and THC. This has led to cases of unwarranted arrests and criminal charges of CBD users.

Within the stretch of just a month, multiple news articles have circulated through Washington D.C.’s news station, NBC 4 Washington, related to this troubling issue. Stories include accounts of people being unlawfully arrested as a direct consequence of police field tests being unable to differentiate between CBD and THC. This becomes even more unsettling when considering the numerous other instances of this occurring across the country.

The first exemplification of the issue came to light when a Virginia resident named Michael, who wished to keep his last name anonymous, was detained during a police raid of a party. He was selling CBD products, while others in the immediate area were selling marijuana. “I was shocked,” Michael told reporters.

Michael knew his products were CBD-based, and should therefore not yield a positive result in a screening for THC.  However, when his product was tested alongside other substances containing THC, the result produced the fine royal purple color that is indicative of marijuana.

Fortunately for Michael, while his inventory was confiscated by local police, he was able to circumvent his arrest after showing authorities a detailed ledger proving the lack of THC within his merchandise.

NBC Washington also reports on a local store owner by the name of Kyle Traugh who was subjected to a more pressing and severe treatment for his CBD inventory. Traugh, who owns a shop where he sells CBD Hemp Flowers, was arrested in March for the inaccurate charge of felony distribution of marijuana.

An undercover agent was tipped off about a possible case of marijuana distribution, which lead him to Kyle’s store, where the agent purchased one of Kyle’s hemp flowers from a canister.

The officer mistakenly made the assumption that Traugh’s product was marijuana. Kyle declined to comment on the advice of legal council. However, he was willing to show the NBC news team his merchandise, clearly consisting only of CBD products.

Last month, NBC Washington 4 shed light onto a story of a similar nature, this time at the fourth largest airport in the country: Dallas – Fort Worth. Journalists Scott Friedman and Jack Douglas Jr. observed that the airport informed its passengers that they would confiscate all CBD products, and that their owners would be detained.

Friedman and Douglas go on to write how Texas, and more specifically the airport at Dallas- Fort Worth, has seen a staggering increase in the number of seizures made of CBD-related substances. Disturbingly, in a select few instances, one tiny bottle of CBD oil has even led to arrests and charges of felony possession.

Even the Dallas-Fort Worth customs port director issued a statement as to how overly punitive the regulation is, stating: “So one single incident, one single small amount of CBD oil that you thought was cool to take on a trip with you, could result in life-changing effects for you.”

Included in the report were other troubling examples of the issue, such as an elderly 71-year-old woman who was immediately sent to jail on the charge of felony possession when she disclosed that she had medicinal CBD on her person to treat symptoms of pain. As the number of seizures of CBD products have grown exponentially in Dallas, reports continue to surface of similar instances.

Notably, customs discovered a bottle of CBD hemp oil in the possession of a college student after a canine detection dog gave particular attention to the passenger’s carry on bag. This lead to a search of the student, and another arrest upon the discovery of a CBD vape pen that mistakenly yielded a positive THC test result.

As these reports file in, it becomes painstakingly obvious that there is a growing need for a new, more accurate field test for THC and CBD. Otherwise, it’s likely that similar instances of unwarranted criminal charges placed on suspects will continue.

Leading the pack in brainstorming solutions for this problem is James Moody, an attorney in D.C. that specializes in cannabis regulations. When asked about this growing concern, he issued the following statement:

“[The technology] is woefully behind where it needs to be. Judges are being told that [a] product is being field tested and is coming back positive for THC, and that’s factually incorrect. They very well could be possessing nothing other than CBD, which is completely legal.

The reason that CBD is legal, as compared to THC, is largely because, while the two are structurally very similar molecules, CBD lacks the necessary properties that result in a psychoactive effect for the user. This means that there is less of a risk of individuals abusing CBD.

Although CBD has been around for several decades, there is untapped potential of the substance to treat different conditions. Notably, CBD has been scientifically proven, and approved by the FDA to treat conditions related to autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions, neuropsychiatric illness, gut disorders, cardiovascular dysfunction, and skin disease.

CBD has been used as a remedy for pets, and to alleviate symptoms in cancer patients. CBD also comes with extremely mild side effects, especially when considering the likes of those associated with THC.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has been shown to sometimes have a multitude of harmful side effects, including anxiety, paranoia, mood changes, and altered perception. It has also been linked to impaired body movement, memory, and depth perception.

In addition, instances of psychosis have lead to it being listed as a stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen simultaneously by the Center for Substance Abuse Research. CBD offers far less problematic potential side effects.

To date, the list for side effects include changes in appetite and mood, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and nausea, which are unquestionably less extreme than those presented in the case of THC.

The health benefits and more mild side effects of CBD go to show that action must be taken to ensure accurate differentiation from its counterpart THC, or innocent people will be left with serious legal ramifications.