Heather Miller Coyle, an associate professor in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences is setting up a national databank that will allow law enforcement to track marijuana DNA. This data will aim to help with the ongoing war on drugs.
Just like other plants, marijuana has DNA. Coyle has developed a new method for collecting the drug’s genetic fingerprint, making it easy for officers to collect the samples at crime scenes.
“Plant DNA is like the DNA found in humans — it retains its lifelong genetic profile,” says Coyle. “If one person has a suitcase of marijuana and another person has bags of it, we will be able to tell if it came from the same batch,” she said in a news release.
This databank won’t be much different from the FBI’s human DNA databank (CODIS). The marijuana version will help law enforcement track where the drug came from and link it to criminal drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, growers in Canada or gangs in the U.S.
“Such a databank and signature mark would be a welcome tool for police and law enforcement agencies,” said Frank Limon, New Haven chief of police. “It’s probable, in some cases, that conspirators of the overall operation may escape investigation and prosecution. The link between production and distribution would aid us in establishing conspiracy cases against the whole operation — not just the dealers and buyers. This would effectively connect the dots to street level narcotics distribution.”
Coyle’s project has been funded with more than $100,000 from the National Marijuana Initiative and the National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program. The groups work together with federal, state and local law enforcement in the detection, disruption and investigation into marijuana trafficking.
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