Legislation seeks to end police harrassment of hemp users with test kits

Feb 20, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A state lawmaker says field tests are needed to help police tell the difference between a Tennessean legally carrying hemp products and those caught in possession of marijuana.

Rep. Jay Reedy (R) Erin, Tennessee
Credit tn.gov

Hemp products don’t produce the high marijuana is known for, but the two smell and can look much the same. Repbulican Rep. Jay Reedy’s bill seeks to end the confusion by requiring police in Tennessee to carry hemp test kits.

“A lot of consumers and growers are unduly being harassed by law enforcement because they’re automatically assuming you have marijuana instead of industrial hemp.”

Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller heads the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee. He says the group supports Rep. Reedy’s bill, but Sheriff's are worried they'll get stuck covering the cost of the kits and other expenses.

“For obvious reasons that will cost. It will cost us on the local level with the training aspect, and too, perhaps even to get people certified.”  

Rep. Reedy says a fiscal note hasn’t yet been completed for his bill, so he isn’t sure yet how much requiring hemp field tests might cost.

Late night traffic stops aren’t the only place hemp products are causing problems.

A year ago this month, police conducted ill-fated raids on 17 small stores in Rutherford County. Officials thought the stores were selling illegal cannabis laced products, but the items actually contained hemp-derived oils. A federal lawsuit is pending in that case.

Last summer the Daily News Journal reported that a City of Murfreesboro employee’s drug screen test came back positive for marijuana after she used a hemp based product.