GRL recently put its knowledge of drug identification procedures to the test in a case involving alleged THC vape liquid.
Police seized a vape cart during a traffic stop. Field testing of the liquid extract showed a positive color change indicating the possible presence of marijuana.
Frequent readers of the GRL Law blog know that field testing can mistake CBD for marijuana. We’ve discussed this phenomenon here.
This is where things get interesting.
Police didn’t send the cart to the state crime lab. Instead, they sent it to a local department that employs an officer with training in marijuana identification. The officer’s verdict was marijuana.
What’s the problem?
Marijuana identification officers are trained to use macro and microscopic analyses to confirm morphological features supposedly unique to marijuana. Things like cystolithic hairs on the upper surface of the leaf, profuse glandular hairs on the lower surface, lacy marked seeds displaying a sharp ridge, etc.
The officer here was not able to evaluate a liquid marijuana extract using any of those identifying characteristics. Also, he did not conduct any semi-quantitative testing. This sort of instrumental analysis differentiates between legal CBD and illegal marijuana.