A Louisa County man was charged with having marijuana, even though he legally bought a CBD product at a store in Charlottesville. They call it hemp flower, and it’s being sold in stores and gas stations across the state.
A routine traffic stop in Hanover County quickly escalated when the sheriff’s deputy said he smelled marijuana.
“That’s when I tell him that I have this CBD, and I actually hand it to him along with everything, which was a bowl, a grinder and the hemp product,” said Mason.
The officer field tested it, and it tested positive for marijuana. But Mason bought the CBD product legally at a store in Charlottesville. He even handed the deputy a receipt.
But police currently don’t have a field test that can tell the difference between legally possessed hemp and illegal marijuana. And according to a memo from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, it also currently can’t test how much THC is in a product. It could find if there’s more than .1 percent, but it can’t test the exact level.
“I’m not sure that the prosecutors and law enforcement is equip to deal with this issue right now,” said Jay Breneman, the defense attorney on Mason’s case.
In September, Breneman took Mason’s case to Hanover County Circuit Court. He had already been convicted in General District Court, and Breneman appealed the case to Circuit Court.
During the hearing, Breneman called the person who tested Mason’s hemp to the stand – a supervisor in the state’s Richmond lab.
“You can’t tell whether this was purchased at the service station down the road?” asked Judge Overton Harris.
“No, your Honor, I could not,” he responded.
“(The judge) looked at the prosecution and myself, and back and said, ‘not guilty,’” said Breneman, which the transcript confirmed.