Cannabis Products: Separating Legal Hemp from Illegal Marijuana

Image: Daoud Alahmad

CONFUSION SURROUNDING HEMP, CBD, and marijuana began with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. For the first time since 1970, this made it legal to grow, sell, manufacture, and transport hemp and hemp-derived products that contain low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The problem from a law enforcement perspective is that the only distinguishable difference between legal hemp and illegal marijuana is the amount of THC they contain. The new law defines hemp and hemp products as those that contain less than 0.3% THC. Marijuana products, in contrast, typically contain between 5 and 30% THC.

To assist in sorting out legal and illegal products, Sirchie, LLC recently announced the company’s new NARK II Hemp/CBD Screening Test. This presumptive field test enables law enforcement to test an unknown plant or oil substance to determine if it contains suspect low levels of THC and is legal hemp or CBD, or if it contains suspect high levels of THC. If it contains suspect high levels of THC, the sample is most likely an illegal substance, and merits further testing.

The new NARK II Hemp/CBD Screening Test from Sirchie

Historically, law enforcement has relied on qualitative presumptive field tests, like the Duquenois-Levine Reagent, to test for any presence of THC. However, the legalization of hemp created a need for officers to be able to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana in the field.

The new NARK II Hemp/CBD Screening Test will help law enforcement eliminate the hassle, embarrassment, and time spent booking or arresting someone for possession of legal hemp or CBD products.

To learn more, go to or call 1-800-356-7311 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to request access to a webinar video on this topic.

This article appeared in the March-April 2020 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine.
You can view that issue here.

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