U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Marijuana Analysis in a New Frontier: Two State Laboratory Approaches

ASCLD Train the Director Webinar Series
Event Dates
Event Duration
90 minutes

Laboratory Directors from Colorado and Virginia will discuss the legal landscape of marijuana and hemp in their respective jurisdictions: one with legalized marijuana and one without. The analytical schemes used in both laboratories will be presented.

In Colorado, medical marijuana was passed by the voters in 2000 and recreational marijuana followed in 2012. Amendment 64 from 2012 also included provisions for industrial hemp. With the 2018 Farm Bill on the horizon, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) began researching options to analyze plant samples to be able to differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp. The CBI continues to work with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and law enforcement agencies across the state. It remains essential to educate officers and attorneys to continue progressing through today’s cannabis industry.

In states where marijuana is not legal, it became vitally important to provide tools such as 4-AP testing for law enforcement to help evaluate which samples should be sent to a forensic laboratory and which should be sent to an agricultural regulatory program. In states like Virginia, these changes grew in importance as the number of registered hemp growers soared.

The Virginia Department of Forensic Science (VADFS) collaborated with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the validation of a semi-quantitative GC-MS method. After validation, VADFS adopted a variation of the DEA method due to differences in available instrumentation and the legal landscape.

Methods used, overall analytical approaches, and reporting language will be discussed for both laboratories.

Date Created: February 14, 2020