McConnell Pushing For Cannabis Field Testing Capabilities

Hemp and marijuana field testing
Image: NickyPe

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing the DEA to develop testing that can quickly distinguish between marijuana and hemp.

One of the challenges for U.S. law enforcement regarding hemp, which is now legal in the majority of states, is that it can look the same as marijuana when processed. Additionally, while hemp looks quite different to marijuana when growing, it may have THC levels above the 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) threshold – which is then considered marijuana.

Police sniffer dogs can’t tell the difference and while field tests can identify cannabis sativa, they can’t determine THC levels.

It’s this difficulty to easily distinguish between the two that has created some headaches for law enforcement, cannabusinesses that have had hemp seized, and resistance in remaining hemp holdout states.

For example, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem recently stated until law enforcement can “quickly and affordably” differentiate between marijuana and hemp, states that have legalized hemp have essentially legalized marijuana as well.

That may not be true, and Governor Noem has plenty of other concerns about allowing the broad adoption of hemp cultivation in her state, but the situation does give the anti-hemp corner ammunition for opposition.

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved wording from Senator McConnell inserted into a spending bill providing a measure to support the Drug Enforcement Agency to develop technology to enable law enforcement to distinguish between hemp and marijuana with on-the-spot field testing.

“Ensuring law enforcement can differentiate between industrial hemp and its illicit cousin is critical, and I’ll continue working with the DEA and other federal agencies so hemp can be treated the same as any other legal commodity,” said Senator McConnell.

The full wording of the funding bill’s hemp provisions can be viewed on Marijuana Moment.

Senator McConnell has been a staunch supporter of hemp and hasn’t rested on his laurels since being the driving force behind the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. He sees hemp as being an important part of the economy for his home state of Kentucky – and nationally.

Very recently, Senator McConnell also continued his push to have the FDA issue formal “enforcement discretion” in relation to the sale of hemp CBD products.