Officer, are you sure that’s Marijuana?

Hemp is a not-so-distant cousin to Marijuana, and one that has been made legal in North Carolina markets. With its ever-expanding product line including –but not limited to –hemp infused chocolate, honey, plants and even dog treats, it has become common amongst young adults.

The only true aspect that separates Hemp and its illegal counterpart, Marijuana, is the amount of THC which can be found within the plant itself. THC is the chemical which causes a “high” to occur, and the legal limit is 0.3% –which can be found within hemp. However, the only way to actually differentiate the THC levels is through lab testing, and there is currently no field test that officers can use to distinguish the two.

Beyond that, North Carolina’s own State Bureau of Investigation released a report in mid 2019 titled Industrial Hemp/CBD Issues. In this report, they admit that “hemp and marijuana look the same and have the same odor, both burned and unburned.” But most importantly they state that, “This makes it impossible for law enforcement to use the appearance or the odor of marijuana to develop probable cause for arrest, seizure of the item, or probable cause for a search warrant.”

Due to this, and of course based on the surrounding circumstances, it could be improper for an officer say that he is arresting you, or to try to attain a warrant for arrest or search solely on the basis of seeing or smelling what they believe to be marijuana.

We at Matheson & Associates understand the frustration that can exist in these circumstances. If you’ve found yourself in such a situation and seek legal representation, call us today!


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