Lab Series

22 Jul 19
KAMR
By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune July 19, 2019 “How can Texas fix its marijuana problem after legalizing hemp? Forensic experts have a plan.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. The scientists think they’ve come up with a solution to Texas’ pot problem. Forensic and crime lab experts are optimistic state and local officials will support a new proposal that would allow for a faster, cheaper way to test suspected marijuana under the state’s new definition of the drug. But even if law enforcement and crime labs agree to move forward with the proposal, it would still be months before labs could start testing cases for prosecutors. And there are still some looming questions — like who would pay for the additional crime lab resources? Last month, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill to legalize hemp and hemp-derived products, like CBD oil, the legal definition of marijuana changed from cannabis to cannabis that contains more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Cannabis below that level is now legal hemp. The sudden change created chaos for Texas prosecutors handling marijuana charges under the new law. Most district attorneys in the state’s 10 most populous counties, including both Democrats and Republicans, have said testing THC levels is now required to prosecute low-level marijuana cases, since a defendant’s claim that a substance is hemp would cast too much reasonable doubt over criminal proceedings without it. The problem is the public labs in Texas don’t have equipment or a process to quantify THC concentration. Numerous district attorneys have dropped cases and refused to accept new charges without further testing. Others have paused cases while they figure out how to proceed, and some have said they will continue to prosecute marijuana cases, with at least one saying test results aren’t usually needed. In a letter Thursday, Abbott and other state leaders argued that cases could still be handled with the “tried-and-true” use of circumstantial evidence. Top prosecutors and lab experts have argued against this, saying things like the smell of marijuana are no longer credible evidence since hemp and marijuana come from the same plant. Initially, crime labs said testing equipment would cost up to $500,000 per machine. One lab director estimated more than 20 labs would need the equipment to cover the state caseload. And even after they got those machines, the labs would have needed to go through an accreditation process that could take a year or more before they could test samples for law enforcement. Now, after meeting last week with officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which worked to distinguish hemp from marijuana when the U.S. farm bill legalized hemp in 2018 on the federal level, the Texas Forensic Science Commission’s general counsel said local officials are looking to use the same approach. “For six months, [the DEA] figured out what they needed to do in order to provide the best, most taxpayer-efficient, economical way of distinguishing between hemp and marijuana,” Lynn Garcia told The Texas Tribune. The federal agency’s approach is to do an initial series of tests that indicate if a substance has above or below a 1% THC concentration. Although the method looks for a concentration that is slightly higher than the legal cutoff, Garcia said the test will likely satisfy most law enforcement needs, adding that nearly all marijuana prosecutions involve THC concentrations of 12% or higher. Things like vape pen oil rise far beyond that. The most appealing part of this plan: Texas labs already have the equipment needed to perform these tests, cutting expected costs and implementation time. “It’s able to give law enforcement what they need to make decisions at the front end using a much less expensive process than I think what our labs were thinking they were going to have to do,” Garcia said. But the price tag and wait time wouldn’t drop to zero. Adding a large new caseload of suspected marijuana samples to already backlogged crime labs would still create a need for more employees and equipment, said Peter Stout, president of the Houston Forensic Science Center, which manages the city’s crime lab. “The challenge that we’re going to have is we’re talking tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of tests across the state,” he said. “We probably don’t have enough equipment.” Garcia said the machines in place now would also likely need to be replaced more often with this type of testing. Still, she expects a need for fewer new instruments at the onset, and these machines cost significantly less — about $75,000 each. The tests the DEA uses would also take much less time, about an hour as opposed to two days, putting less of an additional strain on the crime labs, Garcia said. A spokesperson for the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association, which alerted prosecutors last month that pursuing marijuana cases had suddenly become more difficult, said the approach would be a viable solution to the problems caused by the new legislation. But Stout said it will probably still take a couple of weeks before a final plan of action is agreed upon among stakeholders, including law enforcement and forensic experts. And although it seems likely the labs would be able to bypass any accreditation process using the proposed method since they already use this equipment for other tests, they would still need to validate the DEA’s methods. The plan would be for The Texas Department of Public Safety, which runs 13 state crime labs, and local labs to work with Sam Houston State University to ensure the DEA testing works in Texas. “I have to be able to demonstrate it’s going to do what I think it’s going to do before we start doing casework,” Stout said. Both Stout and Sarah Kerrigan, chair of the forensic science department at Sam Houston State University, said that process will still take months. Meanwhile, many Texas counties will hold marijuana cases in limbo or refuse to accept them. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, they say. “The solution is much more readily available,” Kerrigan said. “It’s still going to take some time, but it’s not going to be as logistically complex.” Despite the apparent agreement among experts on a plan of action, one lingering question remains unanswered: Who is going to pay for the crime labs’ costs of the new legislation? The hemp bill was passed without any dedicated funds attached to it. Over the next two years, the Legislature will funnel about $50 million into the DPS crime labs to help with chronic backlogs, but a spokesperson for the Houston Forensic Science Center said that money is because DPS is already crushed — this testing will require new resources. Garcia said she hopes DPS will get them. DPS officials did not respond to questions for this story. “A lot of the labs are already struggling,” said Kerrigan. “Controlled substances is already the most backlogged discipline, so they don’t always have the human resources to get something done.” Abbott did not respond to repeated requests for comment about funding for new testing under the law, though his letter to prosecutors noted that testing costs would be much less than originally expected. Disclosure: Sam Houston State University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. Read related Tribune coverage This year, Texas passed a law legalizing hemp. It also has prosecutors dropping hundreds of marijuana cases. Hemp law has most big-city prosecutors in Texas stepping back from marijuana charges. But not in El Paso. Texas leaders: Hemp law did not decriminalize marijuana This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/07/19/texas-marijuana-hemp-testing-proposal/. Texas Tribune mission statement The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
22 Jul 19
35mmc

A couple of weeks ago I went down to Bristol to meet Duncan Gammon from SilverPan Film Lab. We’d met briefly at the photography Show in March, but since then I’ve started using his services to develop my film – not least the Ektachrome E100 I’ve been shooting lately – so I thought it might be nice to catch up properly. The plan was, I’d go down and meet him at his house (where he also runs the business). We’d then go for a bit of a walk around Bristol where we would shoot a roll of Ektachrome E100 and have a bit of a chinwag. Following that, the plan was to then go back to his and develop the rolls we’d shot. The twist in this tale is that I took Will, my cameraman from work, to film and record our chats and make it into a bit of a video.

22 Jul 19
jule b. - art lab

Pebbles from small scraps, hand appliquéd, Strata series

22 Jul 19
TBR Book Blog

Title: Ravyn Author: Billie Dale Genre: Romance Suspense Release Date: July 19, 2019 Cover Design: Furious Fotog ✻✻ What she doesn’t remember, might be what kills her. ✻✻   Six months ago Coralyne James was found beaten and clinging to life alongside a desolate country road. Left with a rare form of amnesia, she now struggles […]

22 Jul 19
Dirty wet dog , boats and sailing.

Jeux sans…..whatever ! WABI’’’ real time : at anchor off the Plage du Trez , essentially the beach in front of Benodet. Surprise surprise and it’s raining again.  It would have been slightly more useful for the post if it had been the ‘Plage du Trev’ (Trev’s beach) but the wind direction forecast was good […]

22 Jul 19
Sci-Fi Bulletin: Exploring the Universes of SF, Fantasy & Horror!

The key news from ComicCon was that Brandon Routh will be donning the Superman outfit once more for the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, which will start later this year and conclude in January. Routh played the Man of Steel in 2006’s Superman Returns. He and Tyler Hoechlin will both play Superman, while Routh will […]

22 Jul 19
EILE Magazine

Fest Film Lab will hold a film editing workshop in October, with Oscar-winning film editor, Chris Dickens In 1990, Chris Dickens graduated from the Bournemouth Film School. He began his filmmaking career as a film and linear editing assistant in television documentaries at Channel 4, and the BBC. During this time, he began to cut […]

22 Jul 19
My Good & Healthy Doctor Tips

Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of death in American women. But that’s changed in the last 50 years, partly because screening tests can catch the disease in its early stages. This type of cancer usually starts in the cells that line the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. About 12,000 cases of […]

22 Jul 19
The True Shopaholic

$14.99 (0 Bids)End Date: Wednesday Jul-31-2019 21:48:36 PDTBid now | Add to watch list from https://ift.tt/32HrqQR via IFTTT

22 Jul 19
With Blackjack and Hookers

Die Now, Live Later by the late British author Basil Copper, perhaps best known for his contributions to the Solar Pons series which was a popular Sherlock Holmes pastiche back in the day, is the 5th novel in his Mike Faraday series of vintage mystery/crime thrillers, free again for a limited time courtesy of publisher […]

22 Jul 19
hogewash

This episode of Blognet first ran three years ago today. * * * * * MUSIC: Theme. Intro and fade under. NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. MUSIC: Up, then under … NARRATOR: You’re a Detective Sergeant. You’re assigned […]

22 Jul 19
I'm All About Books

Contemporary western lovers, don’t miss getting your hands on RANCHER NEXT DOOR by Marie Johnston, available now! About RANCHER NEXT DOOR by Marie Johnston Pretend to date, he said. It’ll be fine, he said. Two years ago, Lucas’s high-school sweetheart divorced him for her boss, leaving him with nothing but a string of words like […]

22 Jul 19
Stories from the Archives

by donna davis, July 2019, Creative in Residence at Queensland State Archives. I am very excited to be undertaking a position as Creative in Residence (CiR) at the Queensland State Archives (QSA). I started in May and have so far had the opportunity to undertake research, visit conservation labs, meet with specialist archivists and see […]

22 Jul 19
Logan’s Wordpress

Shaw, Adrienne. “What’s next?: The LGBTQ Video Game Archive.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 34, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 88–94. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15295036.2016.1266683.                   What this scholarly essay is about is a project that the author is doing. The project they are doing is LGBT content in video games. Also, in this essay, […]

22 Jul 19
Elle Q. Sabine

Somewhere along the line, I stopped writing. I know why. But I want it back. I need it back. To that end, I’ve finished a short story that fills in a tiny piece of the epilogue of Hunt Her. The short story is called Seize Her and details what happens when General Enna and his […]