Gaston County teen arrested for marijuana says it was actually CBD

A Gaston County High School student arrested in February for marijuana says it was actually CBD, a legal substance across the United States.

"It's crazy as heck," the girl's father, Rolan Hoffman said.

CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). It is used to treat anything from anxiety to inflammation and is not psychoactive, like THC-- another active ingredient in cannabis that gives users a "high."

CBD products are required by the State of North Carolina to have less than .03 percent of THC.

A Gaston County Police Department resource officer was performing random students searches at North Gaston High School when he stumbled upon residue that he believed to be from marijuana in Hoffman's daughter's backpack. 

The teen was charged with a misdemeanor narcotic violation and drug equipment violation.

"He looked at the stuff and said he'd never seen it before, never knew anything about it," Hoffman said. 

Hoffman said his daughter tried to explain that it's the legal stuff-- CBD.

"He just shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Whatever, it still stands,'" Hoffman said.

FOX 46 reached out to Avazyme Agricultural and Food Testing Solutions. It tests cannabis products for the state to make sure THC levels are below the legal limit.

Avazyme said it's nearly impossible to differentiate CBD from traditional marijuana without lab testing.

"You cannnot taste the difference, you cannot see the difference, you cannot smell the difference," President and CEO of Avazyme Volker Bornemann said.

Lab testing can be expensive. Hoffman said the Gaston County District Attorney's Office was going to make his family pay for lab testing at roughly $600.

"What the officer did in this case was to totally flip the burden of proof," North Carolina State Representative Kelly Alexander said.

Alexander said the state could develop on-site testing for officers to differentiate CBD from traditional marijuana, but that it might become irrelevant because he believes marijuana will soon be legal.

"It's not a matter of 'if,' it's simply a matter of 'when,'" Alexander said.

The Gaston County District Attorney's Office, Police Department and Gaston County Public Schools have all declined comment for this story.

Shortly after FOX 46 visited the District Attorney's office, charges were dismissed, but Hoffman said damage is already done.

"16-year old girl, handcuffed, taken to jail, charged as an adult," Hoffman said. "She said there was a bunch of creepy-old men in there, talking to her and stuff. Where does she go to get her reputation back?"