One of the major selling points for legal weed continues to be that it will prevent people from being arrested or locked up over a plant.
To quote Tyler the Creator: So that was a fucking lie.
Not only is the DEA boasting about INCREASED cannabis-related arrests in 2018, but allegedly pot-friendly and progressive states like California are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fly Blackhawk helicopters around the Emerald Triangle busting legacy growers who they want us to believe are the reason why nobody will pay $80 for an 8th of Cookies in Los Angeles.
Cannabis consumers have always been the lowest hanging fruit for lazy law enforcement and cops will be damned if they have to go actually bust murderers and rapists so the harassment continues, and continues to evolve to keep up with the new reality that Americans want legal weed in higher numbers than ever before.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
One of the biggest controversies facing police departments across the country right now, and particularly in states that are NOT so weed-friendly, is how to deal with the fact that the federal government ended the prohibition of the “hemp” plant back in December of 2018.
As we all know, there is no such thing as a “hemp” plant, it’s just a cannabis plant with ultra-low THC content. It's all just weed, man. The Feds have set an arbitrary cap of 0.3% THC on “hemp” – anything at that level or lower is free from the shackles of prohibition, anything above that cap is considered cannabis and is federally illegal and subject to state laws.
The Feds are still trying to figure out what to do with the CBD compound that is dominant in most hemp crops. For now, it remains a grey area on the federal level, especially if it is being infused into food, drinks, or cosmetic products, which the FDA has yet to thoroughly advise the nation on.
But cops aren’t keyed on CBD (not yet, at least). What has them handcuffed these days is “hemp” “flower” – sticky, fragrant, trichome-covered buds that to the average pig appear to be no different than the street weed that they’ve been chasing after their entire career.
It turns out, folks in places like Texas, where actual potent cannabis is still illegal for most residents, still want to smoke some herb and now, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, thousands of acres of THC-free weed are being harvested each year with some farmers setting top nugs aside to be sold at a premium to smokers.
The lack of regulation on this type of product means that smoke shops and corner stores have been selling jars of buds that truly do resemble the “real thing”.
Additionally, since hemp is technically legal in all 50 states now, 18-wheelers are crossing state lines carrying literal tons of hemp “biomass” from market to market.
At first, cops just busted everyone because that’s what they do. Once the evidence in their cases came back as legal hemp it led to a lot of embarrassment for the cops and the precincts who brought those cases to court.
To be fair to cops, even if they are rarely fair to us, how the hell are they supposed to be able to tell if a bud has 0.31% THC or 0.29% THC? Even accredited testing labs could flub such a tight margin of error using multimillion-dollar equipment in a controlled environment. Police departments can’t afford to employ such equipment or labs for every dimebag they confiscate though and so Attorney’s General in deeply anti-cannabis states were forced to tell law enforcement officers to take a completely hands-off approach on seemingly low-level cannabis busts until they could figure out a cheap, fast, and accurate way to test evidence in the field.
To be honest, I thought that technology was a pipe dream for them. I knew they’d try to create it, and I figured they’d deploy sure-to-fail versions of it leading to more embarrassing days in court, but it appears that a major revelation was uncovered this week that could make Cannabis vs. Hemp field testing a reality almost immediately.
FRICKIN LASER BEAMS
Using a technology called Ramen Spectroscopy, a professor at Texas A&M has discovered a completely non-invasive, non-destructive way to analyze any cannabis plant and within one second and with “100% accuracy” so far determine if that plant’s THC content exceeds the federal 0.3% threshold.
A portable version of the spectrometer, developed by the professor and two of his lab partners at the university, has identified seven key differentiators in the spectra between hemp and cannabis. The technology instantly hones in on those keys, makes the decision, and has yet to be wrong.
The next step is mass production which the creators think could take 2-3 years to ramp up enough to bring the technology to market.
With any luck, whoever occupies the Oval Office next will have us well on our way to ending the federal prohibition of the cannabis plant, as they did with hemp, making the 0.3% cap a foggy memory and rendering this technology useless for law enforcement.
Even if that was to come true, there is still a practical use for the technology for farmers in the field who are interested in tracking the cannabinoid content of their crops throughout the growing season.
Fascinating technology regardless.