A new scanner can quickly determine whether plants are hemp or marijuana without damaging the product, say researchers.
Hemp is technically legal in Texas, but proving that hemp is not marijuana can be a hurdle, requiring testing in a licensed laboratory. So, when law enforcement recently detained a truck carrying thousands of pounds of hemp near Amarillo, Texas, the driver spent weeks in jail awaiting confirmation that the cargo was legal. Events like these inspired the researchers to create the device.
THE MAGIC THC NUMBER: 0.3%
In 2019, Texas lawmakers made a distinction between hemp and marijuana based on the level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, in a plant. THC is the major psychoactive agent in marijuana. If a plant has less than 0.3% THC, it is designated hemp.
Both federal and state restrictions on hemp have loosened in recent years. As a result, the value of hemp has skyrocketed, says Dmitry Kurouski, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and lead author of the paper in RSC Advances.