A recent social media post by the Summerdale Police Department is raising questions about the accuracy of tests used to test for THC content found in hemp and marijuana.
The legalization of hemp in Alabama continues to bring a booming commodity for farmers and dispensaries, but it's now become a growing problem for law enforcement.
Summerdale Police detective John Gleaton said the department recently posted on social media to display testing done on a bottle of CBD Cure water, which the company claims contains no THC.
Using a common field test, Gleaton said, the liquid showed up positive for THC. However, with another test, it showed none at all.
"We clearly have one of the two major tests used by law enforcement that may not be entirely accurate when it comes to CBD products," said Gleaton, "We're using this as an educational moment. We want to make sure that we're accurate and correct when we say this is what this substance is."
Baldwin County Sheriff's deputies tell NBC 15 that even accurate tests can create confusion between the legal and illegal strains of cannabis.
Many CBD products contain a legal amount THC, defined by federal law as less than 0.3%, which still registers during field tests.
"It's gonna field test positive 9 times out of 10 using our presumptive test. What is the officer supposed to do in that case? Because from a probable cause standpoint, there could be an arrest made in that situation," said Capt. Clint Cadenhead with the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office.
In Summerdale PD's case, the situation has put them in hot water. The company that bottles CBD Cure told the Miami Herald that they could sue the department over the post.
Gleaton said they didn't mean to single out the product, but instead show the deficiencies of a current test.
"This is new uncharted territory, and we want to make sure we educate ourselves on this matter. We want to make sure we're right and we treat people fairly," Gleaton said.
Authorities said hemp that registers on field tests are sent to the state law enforcement lab for official confirmation. However, due to a backlog in cases, it could take years to get the final results.
Gleaton said the department intends to discontinue their use of the inaccurate test in the future.