New marijuana test increases taxpayer cost by 1,000%

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 7 at 10:57 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Changes in the law regarding marijuana plant testing will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Labs must provide an exact amount of the chemical THC in substances believed to be pot.

KREM 2 News visited the Washington State Crime Lab and found that the test is very simple. However, the new guidelines are adding weeks and hundreds of dollars to the operation.

Despite the legalization of pot, there are still criminal investigations involving the drug.

“Mainly what we are looking at is the juveniles, most of those would be manufacturing or selling,” said crime lab employee, Jayne Wilhelm.

Many of those cases never had to go to the state crime lab.  The new law requires testers to not only confirm a substance is marijuana but also confirm what percent of the sample is THC.

“When we talk to agencies, we say the turnaround time is three weeks maybe four months,” said Wilhelm.

A few months ago, the process only took 15 minutes. Authorities used to be able to do the test in tubes with various chemicals. The samples are now going through a more complex machine. Running a sample will now cost about $400, a 1,000% increase from before.

Blood or urine testing for marijuana for things like a DUI, are sent to a toxicology unit in Seattle. Officials said those are all taking a lot of time to carry out.

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