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Law changes can impact drug testing and criminal cases

Drug charges are serious, and a conviction can greatly impact a South Carolina defendant’s life for years to come. Because of the implications of these types of charges, the way law enforcement handles and tests for substances is important. Thanks to new changes in the law, this issue is more important than ever.

Hemp is now legal in South Carolina, and its legalization has brought up questions as to how law enforcement can test this substance and know the difference between marijuana and hemp. These both are variations of the same plant, and it’s not easy for the police to know with certainty what they are dealing with. The state recently decided to leave all marijuana testing to trained scientists instead of law enforcement.

Important factors for consideration

Hemp products are now showing up in retail stores, and it is widely accessible in many forms. Because it is so common, officials decided they needed a different approach in handling hemp and marijuana in light of criminal cases. Hemp only contains traces of THC, and it cannot make a person high. It’s popularity and widespread use have led to questions with the industrial hemp industry.

Originally, there was a problem because it was not possible to test hemp and marijuana and tell the difference. Testing methods only detected whether THC was present, not the concentration of the THC in the product. With better testing methods available, it is easier to tell the difference definitively, but it can take longer. This analysis requires the input and training of an experienced scientist.

What does this mean for criminal cases?

Because of the way testing is now done, it could result in a significant backlog of criminal cases involving marijuana. It could also mean that older cases could be eligible for retesting. These factors could make drug cases especially complicated, and there may be decisions to move more serious cases through testing faster.

Defending yourself against drug charges

If you are facing drug charges, these testing methods could directly impact your case. It is in your interests to work with an experienced attorney regarding how you can develop the best defensive strategy for your individual situation. Reaching out to an experienced legal ally as soon as possible after an arrest or at the start of an investigation can ensure that you have knowledgeable guidance at every step.