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US: Justice Department funds hemp THC trials



Photo: DR | NBCNews

The Research Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded $350 to a federal laboratory to develop a reliable method of measuring THC levels to distinguish industrial hemp from cannabis for other purposes.

With the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, forensic labs were required to differentiate seized cannabis samples as legal hemp or illegal cannabis. However, most forensic laboratories still lack reliable extraction protocols and analytical methods for this purpose. “The purpose of this project is to provide forensic laboratories with the analytical tools needed to make these measurements safely, through simple, robust and cost-effective analytical methods,” wrote the DOJ’s National Institute of Justice, in a concession notice published last week.

The recipient of the $350 grant is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal laboratory of the US Department of Commerce. Per the announcement, NIST will focus on developing dilution methods, extraction protocols, evaluation of measurement tools, and a single laboratory validation study.

Upon completion of research and test method development, the proposal will also address technology transfer from NIST to federal, state and local forensic laboratories through standard operating procedures, internship modules, webinars and scientific publications. . To help facilitate the transfer, NIST will collaborate with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) crime labs and the Maryland State Police (MSP). This collaboration allowed for the transfer of 125 seized cannabis samples for investigation in terms of validation of testing methods. NIST will use collaboration with MSP to enable critical evaluation of new analytical methods to ensure their applicability to meet the needs of the forensic laboratory.

The Farm Bill was passed in 2018 and allowed the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States of America, providing a 0,3% THC limit for the entire plant.


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