Why Can’t Cops Tell Them Apart?

Both plants are cannabis, but there are some key differences.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Last February, the Idaho State police pulled over a truck carrying 6,701 pounds of hemp and promptly seized it, allegedly claiming it was marijuana. Now the cultivators of that hemp, Big Sky Scientific, are suing the police, the county, and an attorney. If you’ve been following hemp news recently, then you have probably seen a few of these stories surfacing. Cops across the country seem to be mistaking legal industrial hemp with illegal marijuana (at least in some states like Idaho).. 

So what gives? Here’s why cops may keep confusing hemp for marijuana, and how to tell the difference.

Related: 5 Other Uses for Hemp You May Not Know About

The similarities

Before we can talk about why hemp and marijuana are different, let’s talk about how the two plants are similar. Both hemp and marijuana are members of the genus Cannabis. There are three distinct species of Cannabis: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. What we refer to as marijuana belongs in both the Sativa and Indica family. Hemp, on the other hand, is solely a member of the Sativa species.

Both hemp and marijuana have similar smells, and to the untrained eye look very similar. This is especially true if you look at a side-by-side comparison of hemp and marijuana flower.

Here’s a picture of hemp flower:

Image credit: picture alliance | Getty Images

And here’s a picture of marijuana flower:

Image credit: rocksunderwater | Getty Images

The differences

To the untrained eye, hemp and marijuana can look similar, but there are some key differences. Hemp leaves look skinny while marijuana leaves often have a much broader appearance. Additionally, marijuana plants often look like a short bush while hemp plants look tall and skinny with most of the leaves growing at the top. That is not to say that marijuana plants can’t reach tall heights, but even the biggest plant will still have that bushy appearance.

To help give you a better visual, here’s a graphic showing the differences, courtesy of the Ministry of Hemp:

 

 

However, the most significant difference between hemp and marijuana is their chemical composition. Hemp plants contain a variable amount of the compounds CBD and typically less than 1 percent THC. The legal definition of hemp is that it must contain 0.3 percent THC or less, but some hemp plants will go over that percentage. Marijuana, on the other hand, typically contains 5 percent THC or more.

A business opportunity

One reason why cops keep confusing hemp for marijuana comes down to education and training. Ever since the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, hemp and marijuana have legally been considered the same substance. Consequently, law enforcement has never taken the time to learn how to distinguish the two plants; and why would they? If both hemp and marijuana are considered the same plant under the law, why bother learning the difference?

Even though the 2018 Farm Bill changed that legal definition, law enforcement has yet to change with it. Not only are police officers often unable to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana, but the equipment they use to determine marijuana is antiquated. Most roadside marijuana detection kits are designed to detect the mere presence of THC but not the concentration.

At the moment, there is no way for law enforcement to tell the difference between legal hemp and marijuana, but that may soon change. Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a notice that they are seeking companies that can provide test kits capable of telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. With any luck, an enterprising entrepreneur will come up with a device that allows the DEA to quickly resolve the issue and put to rest the long history confusing hemp for marijuana.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Keep Your Browsing Data Private With This VPN

    Surfshark VPN is a lightning-fast security.

  • Can You Still Make Money Dropshipping in 2019?

    The short answer is no. April.

  • Get Proficient With Google Analytics and Improve Your Earning Potential

    This two-day course will have recruiters.

  • How This Croatian Basketball Player Made His NBA Dream Come True

    Ivica Zubac, center for the Los.

  • How to Measure Performance of Your Outsourced Developers

    Focus on the outcome, not the.

  • 5 Reasons Why Kindness Has Become the Key to My Happiness, Both in Business and in Life

    One small act of kindness, even.

  • Why Your Stomach May Hold the Key to Your Mental Performance

    Don’t just blame your apathy or.

  • Learn How to Make Smarter Real Estate Investments

    These expert-led classes guide you through.

  • Strong Retail Sales and Corporate Earnings Results Boost Entrepreneur Index™ and Confidence in the Economy

    The Entrepreneur Index™ posted a modest.

  • Mitch McConnell Is Positioning Himself as the Champion of the U.S. Hemp Industry

    The Senate Majority Leader sees hemp.

  • An Argument for Farming Hemp

    U.S. agriculture has seen better days,.

  • Entrepreneur Index™ Down as Medicare-for-All Idea Rattles Healthcare Stocks

    The healthcare industry, normally a defensive.

  • 10 Time Management Tips That Work

    Are you working on clock time.

  • How This Entrepreneur Is Improving Women’s Health

    This non-profit is testing new strategies.

  • Netflix Surges Before Earnings Report and Pushes Entrepreneur Index Higher™

    Meanwhile, the real estate investment trust.

  • Tax Audits Are on the Rise. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out.

    Don’t panic, a letter from the.

  • Green Entrepreneur’s New Podcast Will Make You Smarter About the Cannabis Business

    The weekly show features in-depth interviews.

  • Alibaba’s Billionaire Founder Jack Ma Says Companies Forcing Staff to Work Overtime Are ‘Foolish’

    He was responding to a debate.

  • How This Entrepreneur Used CrossFit to Build a Business

    This Entrepreneur won the 2008 CrossFit.

  • How to Negotiate the Price of a Pricey Premium Domain

    Buying a domain at the asking.

  • This Guide Can Help You Shed Your 9-to-5 and Become Your Own Boss

    Shape your own path as an.

  • Do You Have Trouble Sleeping? If So, This Might Help.

    Lack of sleep can affect your.

  • This Leader Says That 4 Words Changed His Life

    April 13, 2019 1 min read.

  • Boost Your Website’s Visibility With This SEO Course

    April 13, 2019 2 min read.

  • Strong Earnings and Big Oil Deal Push Stock Prices Higher

    Oil producer Hess Corp. helps the.

  • How to Monetize Your Podcast

    Gary Coichy, the Founder and CEO.

  • Why Is There No Green in the Garden State?

    Despite wide support by New Jersey.

  • Tesla Shares Down After Gigafactory Expansion Put on Hold

    Plus, Bed Bath & Beyond plummets.

  • Amazon Employees Call for a Company-Wide Climate Change Plan

    This doesn’t guarantee that Bezos and.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond Once Again Drives Entrepreneur Index™ Higher

    The retailer reports earnings after market.

  • 3 Tips for Getting Emails Noticed, Opened and Read (60-Second Video)

    Here’s how to make your messages.

  • No to Casinos, Yes to Cannabis

    Faced with hard times, Bristol, Virginia.