Jan 25, 2020 DFS VA pot testing update addressed by Fairfax criminal defense lawyer
DFS of Virginia updates its marijuana testing procedure- Fairfax criminal defense lawyer weighs in
DFS — the Virginia Department of Forensic Science — on January 24, 2020, announced (1) a new testing procedure to rule out industrial hemp and (2) no longer requiring a court order for the agency to test suspected marijuana. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that police marijuana field tests remain ripe for attack, for not themselves ruling out the 0.3 percent THC threshold for industrial hemp.
DFS claims its new marijuana lab testing will not consider material to be cannabis if containing less than 2% tetrahydrocannabinol
With legal industrial hemp in Virginia permitted to contain up to 0.3% THC (the law does not say whether that is measured by weight or volume), the DFS’s policy sets 2% as the bottom threshold for material to be verified as marijuana. This new Department of Forensic Science testing method is called Semi-quantitative Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detection-Mass Spectrometry (GC-FID-MS). See the forensic science department’s Controlled Substances Procedures Manual at 6. This testing method is to be “applied to all suspected Cannabis sativa plant material samples.”
Suspected pot in simple marijuana possession cases now may be submitted to the Virginia forensic science department without a court order
When marijuana testing was adding to the the DFS’s drug testing backlog, the agency in 2014 announced that a court order would be needed for it to test suspected pot in simple possession cases. The agency’s January 24, 2020, directive no longer requires a court order for such testing. Of course, now that the Fairfax County and Arlington County Commonwealth’s attorney’s offices are generally moving to dismiss adult simple marijuana possession cases, that will offset the effect of submitting suspected marijuana for agency testing without court orders.
Support legislation to decriminalize simple marijuana possession in Virginia
While we are addressing simple marijuana possession prosecutions and DFS procedure, I ask all Virginia voters to urge your state legislators to support Senate Bill No. 2, which decriminalizes simple marijuana possession to a civil offense carrying a fine up to $50.
Decriminalizing marijuana will free up limited government resources
Decriminalizing marijuana makes sense both from a civil liberties standpoint as well as a fiscal responsibility standpoint. Too many government resources are wasted through simple marijuana possession prosecutions in terms of police, prosecution, DFS, and court resources. Changing simple marijuana possession to a civil offense will hopefully make marijuana use not considered as subject to a finding of a probation violation.
Ultimately, marijuana needs to be legalized, taxed and regulated, just as liquor is.
Fairfax criminal lawyer / Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer Jonathan L. Katz is a highly-rated attorney pursuing your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, DUI, drug, marijuana and sex prosecutions. Please call 703-383-1100 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case in confidence with Jon Katz.