Swiss Police Introduce Rapid Test for CBD Levels in Cannabis

To address the conundrum of determining whether the cannabis being publicly consumed in the canton, the city of Zurich, and the city of Winterthur is legal, police departments have introduced a CBD rapid test.

At the end of 2016, the Swiss ministry of health approved the first tobacco substitute from CBD-rich hemp buds. In Switzerland, numerous CBD-strains are purchased as “a product for tobacco cessation or as a tobacco substitute.”

Since that time, CBD and THC Joints have been consumed in public throughout Switzerland just like cigarettes. Because legal and illegal buds can hardly be distinguished from one another simply by looking at them, the new, open handling of CBD has caused headaches for the Swiss police.

In order to be able to impose a fine of 100 francs on those who consume THC-rich strains, a test had to be developed to quickly determine what type of product the cigarette in question contained. That development recently came on the market. If police believe an herb contains THC, they can use the test to determine whether the cigarette in questions contains prohibited ingredients. If the product is determined to have less than 1 percent THC, the property is returned to the individual.

Testing for CBD in dry material, cuttings

A several-month testing phase concluded in December with the introduction of the test kit by city and cantonal police in Zurich and city police in Winterthur.

During the trial period, officers of the city police of Zurich and Winterthur, as well as the cantonal police of Zurich, checked the new rapid test for its practical suitability. Hundreds of tests were carried out on dried cannabis flowers, hashish, and joints as well as fresh cannabis and even cuttings.

The test itself is relatively easy. It consists of two ampules in a small zipper bag. After putting a little of the “suspicious” substance into the bag and closing it, the ampules are broken and the bag is shaken. After two minutes, the liquid turns either red or blue. Red means the product is industrial hemp, while  blue represents what Swiss investigators call “drug hemp.”

The rapid test is only a police tool and is not allowed as evidence in court. If the results of the test are disputed, a laboratory analysis will be required in each case.

Whether the new device really has a future also depends a little on the Swiss people. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of the population is in favor of legalizing cannabis. If the newly launched Hemp-Initiative finds enough supporters and succeeds, legalization could become the subject of a referendum, at which point the CBD quick testers might soon find a place in the museum.

Photos courtesy of Forensic Institute of the City and Cantonal Police Zurich

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