By / August 1, 2019

US’ DEA calls for a cannabis DNA testing device

The legalization of hemp in the United States has created confusion among Drug Enforcement Agency officers (DEA). Indeed, the latter finds it difficult to distinguish between hemp and cannabis and have stopped shipments of hemp on several occasions.

Digipath answers DEA challenge

To meet this new challenge, the DEA had posted an announcement for the creation of a field device capable of differentiating between the two plants. A company answered his call.

This company is Digipath, a testing, data, and media company that works in the cannabis industry and has developed, in collaboration with VSSL, a portable device that can make the difference between hemp and cannabis. The company has just filed a patent for this device.

cannabis test dea
The device does not measure the THC concentration but the DNA of the plants (Source)

DEA wants a DNA check for hemp and cannabis

Digipath is responding to the DEA’s call for tenders. But experts warned that the accuracy of the 0.3% THC limit was a problem for a non-laboratory test. Has Digipath found a way to combine accuracy and portability? Not quite.

In fact, the device does not measure the THC concentration but the DNA of the plants. Although cannabis and hemp come from the same species (Cannabis Sativa), they have been grown and bred by humans for different characteristics.

Hemp plants have been selected and processed to produce strong fibers for textiles and other materials or to produce more seeds for oil and food.

Visible with a DNA test

On the contrary, cannabis has been grown for its medicinal properties and psychoactive effects, so its flowers are stickier, bigger and have more trichomes, these differences are easily visible with a DNA test that allows you to see the genotype of the plant. This is what Digipath offers with its Field Testing Kit, which the company’s CEO, Todd Denkin, describes as a mixture of 23 and Me (genetic tests for humans) and a paternity test for plants.

“In two minutes, our test can determine the nature of the plant sample and which class it belongs to (CBD drug-type or THC drug-type),” explains Todd Denkin.

hemp flower
Cannabis and hemp come from the same species (Cannabis Sativa). (Source)

This technique has limitations

The main difference between hemp and cannabis is that their genetics will push them to produce more CBD or THC. The Digipath test, therefore, examines the genotype of plants to classify them into one category or another. However, this technique has limitations.

Should the arbitrary limit of 0.3% THC in hemp then be abolished and another method of differentiation proposed? Measuring such a precise limit outside the laboratory remains a challenge and Digipath does not respond directly.

(Featured Image by NickyPe)

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