New Hemp Testing for Total THC Requires 5 Grams

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory recently updated its policies regarding Cannabis testing in light of the 2018 Farm Bill, S.F. 599 and H.F. 2581.  Under the new laws, cannabis containing less than 0.3% total THC (Δ9-THC + THCA) is considered hemp.  Hemp extracts, including CBD, are no longer controlled substances under state and federal law.

The drug identification section is now capable of performing semi-quantitative testing of plant material to determine the total THC amount.  The method of analysis mirrors that used by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.  If the sample exceeds 0.3%, then the substance will be reported as “marijuana.”  Otherwise, it will be reported as “Cannabis.”

Effective immediately, the lab will only routinely accept submissions involving plant material that exceed 5 grams.  The lab will analyze amounts less than 5 grams in exceptional circumstances with advance notice provided by law enforcement.  The circumstances include, but are not limited to, felony crimes of violence, crimes resulting in death or serious injury and those involving weapons.  Five grams appears to be enough for both the state’s instrumental analysis and an independent reanalysis by the defense.

The lab encourages law enforcement agencies to use in-house marijuana identification officers to identify suspected marijuana and only submit samples for semi-quantitative analysis when necessary.

Burnt plant material will not be tested for total THC, but will be reported as “Cannabis.”  Iowa law prohibits smokable hemp.  Concentrates such as wax, shatter and oil will be reported as “cannabis preparation” until such time as the semi-quantitative method can be validated for these preparations.

Finally, the lab will no longer analyze sealed commercially labeled marijuana and CBD products that come from states where it is legal unless a specific request is made in advance.  Law enforcement are instructed to rely on the label to determine the amount and types of cannabinoids present in those products.