An Ohio man caught with 91 pounds of what is suspected to be THC-rich cannabis was acquitted of drug charges due to hemp legalization in the state, according to a News 5 report.
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President Ian Friedman, the defense attorney in the case, said that the prosecution’s test for just “the presence of THC” was insufficient because the state’s hemp law allows industrial hemp to contain 0.3 percent THC and the tests did not show THC levels.
“If you don’t get the concentration correct, you’re not going to be able to establish what it is,” Friedman said in the report, adding that it would be dangerous for prosecutors to convict someone without proving that the substance was, in fact, illegal.
“The precedent that they set carries forward on all sorts of cases, right? So, you want to make sure that you’re holding the state to its burden.” – Friedman, to News 5
In August, state Attorney General David Yost warned prosecutors that the legislative changes made quantitative analyses “necessary to ensure the THC content exceeds the statutory 0.3 percent level. In that memo, Yost said that law enforcement agencies should “suspend any identification” of cannabis testing in local jurisdictions because those methods “do not quantify THC content,” and not to “indict any cannabis-related items” prior to crime laboratories being able to perform the concentration tests.
Yost’s office has announced a $50,000 grant for agencies to send cannabis samples to out-of-state labs that can perform the testing and that $1,820 has been used from that grant.
On Monday, Rocky River police told News 5 that Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was not cited for cannabis possession last week due to Ohio‘s hemp legalization laws. In a statement, the Rocky River Police Department said that the law changes “have created challenges in prosecuting marijuana possession offenses” and that many municipalities are not issuing citations for low-level possession as a result of the reforms.