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Ohio crime labs can now tell hemp from marijuana

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Does it seem like cannabis products are just about everywhere these days? It probably isn’t an illusion. Between the 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level and legislation passed by the state in 2019, hemp products like cannabis oil containing less than .3% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) suddenly became legal to produce, buy and sell just about everywhere in Ohio. 

That all presented a big problem for law enforcement. An officer of the law can’t distinguish between CBD products containing less than .3% of THC and those with more than .3% of the drug just by looking or smelling a product. CBD and THC are both produced by the same plant, after all. And lab tests being conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations were not sophisticated enough to tell the difference, either. 

As a result, the authorities largely stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana criminal cases in some areas, including Columbus, because they knew that defense attorneys would (quite rightly) insist on lab tests.  

Recently upgraded equipment may now change that dynamic. State crime labs in three cities now have the improvements they need to differentiate between hemp and marijuana — and that could spell trouble if you’re caught with the wrong one. 

It’s important to understand that the relaxed attitudes that you’re seeing toward marijuana in many urban areas aren’t necessarily shared by law enforcement in every jurisdiction in Ohio. In fact, many smaller communities still strictly enforce marijuana laws. The consequences of a conviction even for possession can be lifechanging. If you find yourself charged with a drug crime, learn more about all your available defense options.