At the end of last week, the US Bureau of Anti-Narcotics placed a public tender for the purchase of electronic analyzers of cannabis plants that could help agency employees quickly and efficiently analyze cannabis plants to distinguish non-psychoactive technical varieties from bushes containing high concentrations of THC. Judging by the request of the bureau, the intended apparatus must detect the presence of THC in the plant tissues with an accuracy of one tenth of a percent, in order to identify bushes containing THC in concentrations of more than 0.3% of the total number of active compounds.
“The analyzer device must be specially designed to detect differences in the chemical composition between technical cannabis plants and bushes containing high concentrations of psychoactive substances. Also, the device must have a portable form that allows the procedure to test cannabis samples in the field,”
— reads the text of the announcement of the purchase posted on the website of the federal contractors’ bureau .
These devices are necessary for ABN in the light of the country’s agricultural reform bill adopted at the end of last year, in fact completely legalizing unregulated technical cannabis production on a commercial scale throughout the United States. Since both technical hemp and medical and recreational plant varieties are genetically identical species, agents who continue to hunt for underground psychoactive marijuana crops have a serious problem in finding differences between cannabis species. In fact, this distinction exists only in legal terms, since any cannabis bush containing less than 0.3% of THC is automatically recognized as a technical breed, while everything above this mark is recognized as a drug and is subject to immediate destruction.
Most likely, the agency decided to place such a tender, in view of the continuing increase in the number of incidents during which the agents of the ABN and the police officers helping them, by chance unlawfully detained or destroyed plants that did not contain elevated concentrations of THC. It is worth noting that the feds already have portable tests to check for THC plants, however, due to their low sensitivity, such devices can only detect the presence of banned cannabinoid in the plant, without detecting its exact concentration in the tissues, which is actually the cause of false retention. At the moment, it is possible to establish the exact concentration of THC in a plant only by analyzing its tissues in the laboratory, which can take up to several days, subject to low workload of the institution.
Growth of false arrests of technical cannabis and related products:
The first loud incident about the retention of legal goods of technical cannabis, sent for processing, occurred in early January, shortly after the provisions on legalizing the cultivation of this type of plant came into force. Oklahoma police detained four men in the beginning of the month, transporting about 18,000 pounds (about 9 tons) of technical cannabis on two trucks. Since the standard test for the presence of THC was able to detect the presence of a substance in the tissues of plants, the load and drivers were taken into custody. Unfortunately for the victims, during this period, the Shat-Down of the federal government continued in the country; therefore, the ABN laboratory, equipped for accurate analysis of plant samples, was closed until 25 January. Accordingly, two drivers, Tadesse Deneke and Fara Warsame, spent almost a month in the detention center. Andrew Ross and David Dirksen, who were accompanying cargo guards, were able to get bail 6 days after the arrest.
“I can assure you that our cargo contained only technical hemp plants that meet all the norms and quality standards established by the provisions of the agricultural bill,” Mr. Dirksen told reporters after being released. “How not to look, these bushes do not even outwardly resemble psychoactive marijuana. Why, they didn’t even smell like plants intended for recreational use. ”
Frank Robinson, the victims ’lawyer, informs the press that the Osaji County Sheriff’s office, which made the men’s arrest, insisted to the end that the arrest was justified because the police test showed that the plant tissues contain traces of a high concentration of THC.
“Despite the fact that all the facts indicated that the police did not have the tools to accurately analyze the cargo, the sheriff’s office continued to maintain its position on the guilt of my clients until the end of the month,” the lawyer notes. “In the end, the police claimed that they found traces of THC using a simple microscope, which is by no means a method of standardized testing of cannabis plants for high levels of psychoactive compounds.”
Rob McIntyre, who is the head and founder of the Salvation Botanicals laboratory engaged in the professional testing of cannabis samples for companies in the Canadian legal cannabis market, reports to journalists that it will be extremely difficult to develop such a device, even with the active financial support of a similar project from the state. features of the procedure for the exact chemical analysis of plant tissues.
«In particular, I doubt that such a device can achieve the required measurement accuracy,» he says. “The fact is that we are talking about the detection of very low concentrations of THC in plant tissues. Since the percentage of THC concentration allowed in technical hemp, as permitted by US law, should be less than 0.3% of the total number of active substances, such quantities of a substance can be more or less accurately detected only by chemical separation of compounds from a plant sample under biolaboratory conditions. I highly doubt that anyone will be able to find a way to fit such complex and cumbersome equipment into a portable device for field tests. ”