Texas legalized CBD oil in June, which presented a new issue for state law enforcement – how to distinguish CBD from other illegal cannabis products on a daily basis.
At first glance, CBD products are nearly indistinguishable from other cannabis products. However, the difference lies in the THC content. CBD is derived from the cannabis plant but contains a maximum of .3 percent THC, the chemical in cannabis that gets you high.
The tests currently available for law enforcement are only capable of determining whether there are cannabinoids in a product. To be fair, that is all law enforcement needed to know before June. If Cannabinoids were present, then a person was breaking the law. But now that the laws have changed, there is a very obvious need for a testing kit that will prevent people from going through the hassle of proving that they are not carrying an illegal substance.
In response to questions about enforcing the new CBD laws with the currently available testing technology, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said:
A drug test can’t do it, nor can a presumptive test[.] And so we can’t distinguish something legal from illegal, and that’s across the state.
The inability to distinguish an illegal substance from a legal one has created tension between District Attorneys and Governor Gregg Abbott. Specifically, district attorneys in several counties have announced that they will not prosecute misdemeanor marijuana charges due to the inability to efficiently test whether a person possesses a cannabis product with an illegal level of THC. In response, the Governor sent a letter stating:
[M]arijuana has not been decriminalized in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how H.B. 1325 works.
How do counties enforce the new law without access to proper testing technology? Switzerland may have the answer to that problem. Scientists at the Zurich Forensic Science Institute have developed a testing kit that does what previously used kits are not equipped to do – test the level of THC in a product.
The Swiss testing kits appear to be a relatively simple solution to a tricky problem. The test results in one of two ways: it turns a purpleish-pink when a higher concentration of CBD is present, and blue when a product contains a higher percentage of THC.
While it is unclear how precise the kits are, it is comforting to know that law enforcement will be one step closer to solving the cannabis testing confusion in the United States. In the meantime, it is important for Texas residents to be cognizant of the current limitations of product testing when making the decision to travel with CBD products.