Drug testing methods can’t always tell the difference between CBD and THC

The finding could have massive implications for law enforcement in the United States

By Kieran Delamont

2019-10-24

A Colorado man who had been giving his son CBD-infused raw honey says he is planning to sue after a drug lab returned a false positive for THC in his son’s hair. The story, however, is much larger than one drug lab offering a false positive. Rather, the man wants to put the methods of testing themselves on trial.

THC is illegal federally in the United States. CBD is not.

As the New York Times explains, “A little-known study published in 2012 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology showed that a common forensic drug testing method could easily mistake the presence of CBD for THC. In short, the drug testing lab may have erred.”

This could have massive implications for law enforcement in the United States, who use these common drug testing methods all the time. Ditto for workplaces, child services, the list goes on and on. 

The engine of this push is Frank Conrad, chief technology officer at Colorado Green Lab, who has been leading the charge against these testing methods relied on by the courts. The case hasn’t been filed yet, but could pose significant problems for the prohibitionist case in the future. As the NYT notes, prosecutors have dropped the charges in every case in which Conrad has been involved.

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