Pot or hemp? NYPD bust highlights growing drug confusion

Detectives in New York thought they confiscated more than 100 pounds of marijuana, but the dispensary worker arrested for having it says it was actually legal hemp, not illegal marijuana.

Hemp is a federally legal form of cannabis and can be easily confused for marijuana.

Johana Reynolds with Chillum Dispensary in Tampa has even had her own store's hemp tested with law enforcement and said she was surprised when the results came back positive for marijuana. She said it's a sign that improvements need to be made to field tests so innocent people aren't arrested.

"You probably would not be able to tell the difference until you smoked it," Reynolds said.

It looks, feels and smells just like the real thing. The difference between hemp and marijuana is hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which is the chemical found in marijuana that gets you high.

Hemp is now part of the CBD craze growing across the country. Major chains like Walgreen's, CVS, Rite Aid and now Winn Dixie are all now selling a range of CBD products, but the growing popularity is causing issues for law enforcement.

In New York City, police posted a photo to Facebook, boasting after they confiscated 106 pounds of what they said was marijuana in a FedEx delivery. But Ronen Levy, who works at the Brooklyn dispensary planning to sell it, said it's hemp.

Levy pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of felony criminal possession of marijuana. NYPD said the packages, which tested positive in a field test for marijuana, are now being tested at a lab for the final determination.

Reynolds said the possibility of legal trouble has worried her own customers here in Tampa.

"I have people ask me, "How should I get this home? What should I do if an officer stops me and wants to see it?'" Reynolds said.

Often times legal hemp can test positive for illegal pot in a law enforcement field test. It is something Reynolds said needs to change.

"It doesn't make sense to legalize something and have people be able to buy it and then turn around and arrest them for it," Reynolds said.

Back in May, a great-grandmother was arrested at Disney World after bringing CBD oil into the park. She spent 12 hours in jail before being released. No charges were ever filed.

"The last thing I want to do is sell something to someone that is going to put them in jail," Reynolds said.