With hemp plants being identical to their intoxicating cousin, marijuana, in every field test and most widely available lab test, law enforcement has had a hard time telling the two apart. Some states have moved to ban smokable hemp so there is no confusion, while others stopped enforcing small marijuana busts because of the time and expenses required to prove what kind of cannabis they are dealing with.
To help with this problem, researchers at Purdue University are working with Hemp Synergistics LLC, a Pennsylvanian hemp biotech company, to develop a field test that can tell the difference between hemp and marijuana in under five minutes.
The THC Recognition Unit (TRU) is able to detect THC levels up to 1%. The test can also tell if the concentration is above 1%, but can’t give an accurate measurement. The project is run by Ron Fazio, a former forensic scientist and COO of Hemp Synergistics.
The test also is able to quantify the amount of both Delta-9 THC and Delta-9 THCA. With the ability to have a positive test in the field, law enforcement will be able to stop people on the street and identify what they are carrying without potentially bringing someone in for carrying a legal compound.
“This product is not designed to replace full forensic laboratory testing—rather, it is designed to give a rapid, accurate field test that can identify what doesn’t need to go to the lab. We estimate it can lower forensic laboratory submittals of suspected marijuana cases by 50 percent,” said Purdue University Northwest’s Christian Westring, Ph.D.