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New Mexico Police to Use Test Kit to Distinguish Hemp from Marijuana

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If you just take a glance at marijuana and hemp side-by-side, it can be hard to know the difference. In New Mexico, hemp cultivation will begin soon and the New Mexico State Police want to be prepared, so they’re considering using a new kind of test to determine the difference between hemp and marijuana.

The new test would detect the actual THC percentage, not just the presence of THC, according to KRQE News. The new device could help law enforcement officials prevent marijuana from traveling across state lines for those that try to claim their load is hemp and not marijuana. The State Police are acting in anticipation.

State Police Captain Troy Weisler said, regarding knowing the difference by eye, that, “They cannot immediately tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. Statutorily, the only difference is the amount of THC.”

Weisler commented on the new testing kits and said, “The traditional field testing kit just tests for the presence of TCH. So, it’s quite possible if you test for hemp that’s legal, .3% or less, that it would give a positive result to that. {It} turns one color if it’s more than 1%, turns a different color if it’s less than 1% THC, which still isn’t exactly the law is but it’s getting us in the ballpark.”

The focus at the moment is on training officers to detect and apprehend smugglers while knowing the difference between a smuggler and a legal cultivator.

Law enforcement doesn’t want to hinder the new hemp industry.

Weisler said, “We don’t want to interfere with the burgeoning new, legal hemp industry in any way.”

It’s unsure if the testing kits will be selected or if they’ll be in place when New Mexico hemp farmers start planting in July. It’s expected that the new chief of police will make the final decision.