We have science to thank for much of our progress in the last thousand years. Any guess as to what is the most important technology ever invented? The wheel? The printing press?
Hands down, whoever invented fire technology may have advanced human civilization more than any other tech, and we’ll probably never know which caveman or cavewoman came up with that brilliant idea. You need not watch Naked and Afraid to know that fire is everything.
But, technology has created its share of problems. Are we watching too much TV? Are kids interacting too much with tech, rather than actual human beings? Do people have fewer human friends now, versus decades ago, all due to technological “advances”?
What we do know is that technology is now creating a problem for prosecutors. Here’s the evolution of this problem.
The first problem is, July 1st, 2019 marked the day that hemp became legal in Florida.
The second problem is, hemp is the same plant as marijuana. They are both cannabis plants, but hemp contains less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the stuff that gets you high). As such, the police cannot determine whether a citizen is possessing legal hemp or illegal marijuana. After all, hemp smells the same and burns the same and looks the same as illegal marijuana.
Yes, we may be seeing far fewer possession of cannabis arrests.
Let’s get back to science for a moment, so we can understand the problem with all of this. Scientists can send people to the moon, but they have a tough time telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. Notice I said “scientists.” Not police. Not prosecutors. Not judges.
Prosecutors rely on the laboratories at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to convict folks of drug crimes by having a “scientist” testify from FDLE (yes, I’m using air quotes). The measurement devices currently used by FDLE to test for the presence of THC are gas chromatographs (GC) and mass spectrometers (MS). The problem is, these laboratories do not have the instruments necessary to tell the difference between a legal substance–hemp, and an illegal substance–marijuana.