Seized marijuana testing takes longer since legalization

Seized marijuana testing takes longer since legalization »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR has learned of another unintended cost of legalizing marijuana. It's a cost you're paying for. KEPR looked at the added time and expense to deal with marijuana cases.

Jason Stenzel supervises the State Patrol Crime Lab in Kennewick. Every time a crime is committed regarding drugs, the evidence comes here. It needs to be identified to be sure a drug is really what it appears to be.

The lab sees about three dozen new cases a week. A handful involve marijuana, because it's still illegal in some circumstances. Most cases involve juveniles.

Before the legalization of marijuana, scientists had a very straight forward way of identifying it. They just needed a positive chemical test and a positive microscope test, now the process has become a lot more difficult.

"Now the law has written to include a quantitative description. It has to have more than 0.3% THC content," said Stenzel.

Our local lab can't do that. Which means the evidence is sent to Spokane.

"That's created a little bit of back log and we are still working over the most efficient way to do it," he said.

What used to be instant, now takes hours. What used to give results in 3-4 weeks now takes 3-4 months. And what used to cost next to nothing, now comes with a $400 bill to identify the THC.

"The experiment that you need to do to figure out how much is in there takes quite a bit longer than simply identifying what is in there," said Stenzel.

All paid for, by the taxpayer, to be sure marijuana really is marijuana.

Despite it being legal for those over 21 to possess pot, you can still be charged with a DUI if your blood has enough THC in it.