OLYMPIA- The Associated Press reports that the Washington legislature, in a rare Saturday session, has approved a new law establishing the difference between commercially-grown industrial hemp and medicinally-used marijuana.
The difference will hinge on the amount of delta-9 THC and THC-A contained in the plant. If the combined amounts of both chemicals do not exceed 0.3% of total content, the plant will be legally defined as hemp. Any amount over that figure would identify the substance as marijuana.
The distinction came at the request of prosecutors and crime lab technicians. Contained within the new recreational marijuana use law adopted by Washington voters in 2012 is a definition of marijuana that includes only delta-9 THC. Scientists note that THC-A, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid, is not intoxicating in its original form and is only converted to delta-9 THC through a heating process. By measuring both substances they believe they can get a more accurate indication of the intoxicating potential of any sample.
Industrial hemp legislation has been introduced in several states during the 2013 legislative cycle. Both Washington and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana for all adults in 2012; both states are in the process of defining what those legalized programs will look like.
By Rick Thompson