County seeks grant for lab

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Gwinnett County Police Department is hoping to receive a federal grant that would enable it to create a dedicated marijuana testing lab, officials said.

The Board of Commissioners recently approved a motion allowing the police department to receive the $60,817 contribution from the U.S. Department of Justice, if granted. Police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Wednesday that the department could know within the next month.

The funds would help GCPD's Crime Scene Investigation Unit convert an existing storage area into a lab used solely for verifying the chemical identity of suspected marijuana, a crucial step in criminal drug cases.

"We currently test in the forensic lab, which impedes other services," CSI manager Jeff Branyon said. "If we get the grant, we can have a space to test marijuana without impacting other cases. We tested over 1,900 cases last year so this will really help us.".

The grant would not require matching county funds and would be "100 percent funded through the Office of Justice Programs," officials said.