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Termination of Police Marijuana Testing Program

Termination of Police Marijuana Testing Program

In a major change, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has terminated the marijuana analyst certification/testing program effective immediately. 

You can download the official press release here.

The reason is that South Carolina's law authorizing production of industrial hemp (S.C. Code § 44-55-50) specifically excludes prosecution of marijuana with a THC content under .3% as illegal marijuana. 

Existing law enforcement testing for marijuana is not sensitive enough to make this type of precise determination as to the amount of THC present. This means that police testing cannot say if the "green plant-like material" tested is industrial hemp, or illegal marijuana. SLED states that they can do the  required testing at their facility in Columbia, however it will take at least four weeks to complete. 

We don't expect most law enforcement officers to submit small amounts of marijuana for the required testing. In all other instances police won't be able to prove that claimed marijuana is illegal vs. industrial hemp. This can result in charges being dismissed or defendant's being found not-guilty. 

South Carolina's industrial hemp law creates a significant legal defense for those facing Simple Possession of Marijuana charges, or even many General Sessions charges such as Possession with Intent to Distribute. This issue will still be raised by the defense, so defendants with pending charges shouldn't expect their cases to just automatically disappear. 


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