The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has published a notice asking interested parties to express interest in supplying it with equipment that can be used to determine whether a given cannabis plant is marijuana or federally legal hemp.
The notice that was issued last week indicated that such equipment was necessary since the 2018 Farm Bill made it federally legal to grow hemp but federal laws still consider marijuana to be an illegal substance/plant.
Note that hemp and marijuana are all cannabis plants, so one can only tell them apart by subjecting samples to tests for their THC content. U.S. federal law sets the maximum THC limit for hemp at 0.3 percent. Any cannabis plant with a higher THC content is marijuana, according to the current legal definition of those two plants.
The DEA wants to identify a supplier who has field kits that can help the agents of the law enforcement agency to tell those two plants apart.
The DEA is interested in procuring portable yet rugged equipment which will stand up to the harsh field conditions where rapid tests will be needed before a decision is taken to arrest possible offenders or impound a given consignment.
The agency also wants to buy the latest versions or models of such a product, and the number of units purchased will depend on how the equipment performs during its evaluation and what the needs of the agency will be at that time.
Why would the DEA need such equipment when the 2018 Farm Bill shifted matters of hemp to the Department of Agriculture?
It is true that the DEA falls under the Justice Department and they would ordinarily no longer be interested in matters to do with hemp. However, the DEA still has a mandate to enforce marijuana laws around the country, so the agency anticipates that it will encounter difficulties while trying to decide whether a given plant is hemp or marijuana. The test kits can help to clear the air when such a distinction is required.
The DEA has set a deadline of March 15 for interested companies to give it the information it needs to decide the details of the procurement process.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the DEA to expedite the process of approving the companies that had applied to manufacture research-grade cannabis. Only Mississippi University is currently licensed to grow and process marijuana for research purposes, and its shortcomings have created the need for additional cultivators/manufacturers.
The Flowr Corporation (TSX.V: FLWR) (OTC: FLWPF) and The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) applaud the foresight of the DEA in seeking testing equipment long before conflicts arise regarding what a given plant is during the law enforcement activities of the federal agency.
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