Challenging identification of marijuana by sight or smell

Forensic Resources for the Office of Indigent Defense Services website

After its decriminalization at the federal level, states have begun implementing programs to oversee the production, manufacture, and distribution of hemp products. Some North Carolina farmers have been participating in a pilot program which allows the legal production of industrial hemp. Since hemp’s legalization, North Carolina faces several areas of uncertainty in enforcement of marijuana laws.

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Emancipate NC Files Amicus Brief About Hemp & Marijuana

Emancipate NC blog

On May 13, Emancipate NC Associate Director Elizabeth Simpson filed an amicus brief in the North Carolina Supreme Court about probable cause and cannabis. It calls for the Court to stop police from using the smell of “weed” as a pretext to search people and vehicles. This practice leads to racial profiling.

Since the federal legalization of hemp, North Carolinians have enjoyed a variety of legal cannabis products. Smokable hemp smells exactly the same as illegal marijuana.

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Nobody Knows (If It’s Pot Or If It’s Hemp)

Huston & Harris

In 2019, the Texas Legislature changed the definition of marijuana to exclude cannabis that has a THC content of .3% or less (Hemp). But it appears they didn’t take into account that Texas doesn’t really have the resources to test all of the cannabis for all of the misdemeanor pot cases in Texas.

Hemp or Marijuana?

Phil Dixon for the North Carolina Criminal Law: A UNC School of Government Blog

Back in November of last year, I wrote about hemp and CBD laws. I have been teaching quite a bit on the subject lately and wanted to follow up that post with an examination of how legal use of hemp products may affect marijuana prosecutions in North Carolina.

The state of hemp. As I outlined in the prior post, hemp products are legal under state and federal law. This is apparent to anyone that visits a hemp store, where you can purchase everything from CBD-infused gummy bears, lotions, or drinks, to hemp flowers, also known as “buds” of the plant.

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Industrial Hemp/CBD Issues


Session Law 2015-299 established the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission and initiated a pilot program to study the feasibility of industrial hemp as a crop in NC. Industrial hemp is the plant species Cannabis Sativa, which is the same species as marijuana. Industrial hemp contains low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, a Schedule VI controlled substance in NC. Industrial hemp is engineered to contain high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which is not psychoactive and has many alleged health benefits including treatment for some forms of epilepsy.

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