While hemp is now federally legal, the inability to distinguish it from its illegal cousin marijuana—cannabis that has more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—has posed issues for both law enforcement and hemp industry participants. But a new field test kit may soon change that.
Hemp Synergistics LLC, a Pennsylvania-based hemp biotechnology company, has partnered with Purdue University Northwest to develop a new THC rapid field test kit for law enforcement to distinguish hemp from marijuana in less than five minutes.
The test, called TRU (THC Recognition Unit), has the ability to measure the amount of THC in a cannabis sample up to 1%. Ron Fazio, a former forensic scientist and the current chief operations officer at Hemp Synergistics, says the test also indicates if the sample contains more than 1% THC, although it cannot detect the specific amount beyond that.
Field test kits exist that can aid in distinguishing hemp from marijuana, but they often need additional lab testing for confirmation. TRU builds off the existing chemistry used for the Duquenois-Levine reagent test, which is a PH test commonly used in the field that simply indicates whether THC is present in the sample. Another test that has been used by law enforcement in Virginia, called the 4-AP test, measures the ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) versus THC to indicate whether the sample is likely hemp or marijuana.
The new test is different because it provides both identification and quantification of delta-9 THC and delta-9 THCA. While it may still require law enforcement to send samples to the lab for additional testing, TRU’s developers estimate it will cut back on that need drastically.
“This product is not designed to replace full forensic laboratory testing—rather, it is designed to give a rapid, accurate field test that can identify what doesn’t need to go to