Lawmakers in Ohio are finding it hard to differentiate between hemp and cannabis, two compounds where one’s legal and the other is not.
The differences between hemp and marijuana are plenty, especially when viewed through the eyes of the law. It makes it very problematic then that both compounds look exactly the same.
There have been different cases in the state of Ohio that reflect this confusion within the law. The most notable one occurred last week when Kareem Hunt, running back of the Cleveland Browns, was caught speeding. After officers searched his car, they found what they thought was marijuana.
“The reason I’m not citing you for this is because the marijuana laws have changed in the state of Ohio,” the officer told Hunt. He then explained that hemp and marijuana are very hard to differentiate from each other, especially when looking at the compound on the side of the road. “So, it needs to be tested, basically,” the officer said.
Another example that better illustrates the current state of disarray in cannabis laws is one that allowed a man holding 91 pounds of cannabis to walk free. News 5 reports that even with testing, authorities couldn’t determine if the seized product was illegal marijuana or legal hemp.
“[The prosecutor] tested for the presence of THC and thought that was going to be sufficient,” said defense attorney Ian Friedman. “If you don’t get the concentration correct, you’re not going to be able to establish what it is.”
While hemp contains small amounts of THC that won’t get users high, it still contains trace amounts of the cannabinoid. Ohio lawmakers still haven’t figured out a way of testing the amount of THC present in hemp or cannabis, which would be the only accurate way of knowing what the product is.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost has advised not to bring cannabis related cases to courts. “As prosecutors, we have an ethical responsibility to prosecute when evidence shows a person committed a crime. We thoroughly review all cases prior to presenting them to grand jury. Because of Ohio’s new marijuana law, testing is being done to determine the percentage of THC in marijuana seized by law enforcement,” he said.
The Attorney General’s office expects labs to be able to tell how much THC is in hemp and cannabis by sometime this spring. In the meantime, I guess people in Ohio have a little more leeway than residents of other states where cannabis remains illegal.