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Roadside Saliva Testing For Marijuana Gets House Hearing In Michigan


saliva drug test marijuanaThe Michigan House of Representatives will consider making the state’s citizens subject roadside saliva testing for the presence of marijuana and other drugs in a Judiciary Committee meeting on April 17, 2014.

Michigan already has laws and procedures to protect citizens from hazardous drivers, including liberal rules defining reckless operation of a motor vehicle and a visual analysis of drivers to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If impairment is suspected officers already have the ability to order a blood test, to seize a motorist’s vehicle, and to arrest the individual involved. Saliva tests have been rejected for use by the federal government and the industry reports no FDA approval for the methodology.

Michigan has a per se drug law. Anyone operating a motor vehicle with any presence of cannabis in the bloodstream is committing a crime, even if the driver is not driving recklessly or has no detectable signs of impairment. A Michigan court case ruled that the presence of a specific marijuana metabolite in the bloodstream did not constitute impairment, which stands in opposition to the per se law. 


Generally speaking, saliva testing for marijuana is viewed by the experts as an unproven technology that does not demonstrate behavior that is dangerous to the public. Sources report that “even the US Department of Justice concedes that a positive drug test result for the presence of a drug metabolite “does not indicate … recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”” One industry website states, “Some people may question the saliva drug test accuracy because there is no formal method or certification required while testing saliva. False positives may occur due to improper testing processes.”

Manufacturers of saliva tests do not agree on the reliability of the testing methodology. “Why is it important to evaluate the performance of a saliva test?” asks drug testing manufacturer Narco Check. “Because the only molecule present in the mouth after smoking a joint is the Δ9-THC, not THC-COOH. But many saliva tests on the market are still designed on the basis of modified urine tests, that track mainly THC-COOH and not the Δ9-THC. These tests are completely ineffective.” MediTests reports that, “The designation of “for forensic use only” means that the substance abuse test is not FDA 510k Cleared.”

In the scholarly journal Clinical Biochemist Reviews, questions were raised about the varying degrees of accuracy in saliva testing. “Oral fluid cannot be seen as a substitute for blood or urine drug testing… For example, the Salivette® has poor recovery for THC but is reasonable for codeine, whereas the Cozart® collector has good recovery for THC, and methamphetamine (unpublished data). The Quantisal® collection device has a good recovery for THC, although another study found lower recoveries for THC.”

How long will the saliva tests detect marijuana use? Depends on who you ask. Narco Check says, “whatever the test used, THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) can never be detected more than 4 to 6 hours in saliva.” Competitor Test Country says the tests are good for up to 12 hours. “Delta 9 THC has been measured in oral fluid up to 72 hours after smoking,” says another competitor, Forensic FluidsMedical Health Test, an industry website, reports that, “Drugs like marijuana and cocaine can be detected up to 24 hours after consumption.”

At what threshold will the test detect marijuana presence? Again, the result depends upon whom you ask. Narco Check will not detect THC at a level below 25 nanograms per liter. Test Country advertises the cutoff for detectable amounts of THC is 50 ng/ml.  Other testing companies reported a wide variety of detection ranges.

In an article from 2012 titled, “Why FDA Toughened Its Stand Against Saliva-Based Drug Test Kits,” author Greg Shpungin states that, “The use of oral fluid drug tests in the workplace is considered a violation in many states and federal laws.”


The House Judiciary Committee will take up the issue of oral marijuana testing in their regular session, which begins at 9 am in the Anderson House Building in Lansing. The proposal is contained in House Bill 5385, which is sponsored by Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Port Huron, and co-sponsored by 15 other House members, including professed medical marijuana advocate Rep. Michael Callton, R-Nashville.

Lauwers served as a legislative assistant to current Attorney General Bill Schuette during Schuette’s time in Washington, D.C. as a Congressman. Schuette led the fight to prevent medical marijuana from becoming law in Michigan in 2008; he failed, as the people elected to authorize medicinal cannabis by a 63% YES vote. Since he attained the position of A.G., Schuette has initiated or instigated multiple efforts to restrict the activities of those Michiganders who have registered for the program.

Callton has sponsored HB 4271, called The Provisioning Centers Act, a bill which would allow local communities to allow or restrict distribution centers for medical marijuana. The move to embrace testing that supports a zero-tolerance law which would undoubtedly snare some of the state’s 115,000 licensed and registered medical marijuana patients has members of the cannabis community questioning Callton’s commitment to patient’s rights.

Supporting the legislation are four Democrats- David Rutledge, Paul Clemente, Bill Lavoy and Andy Schor. Notable Republican sponsors of the Bill include Committee Chairman Kevin Cotter and Kevin Daley, sponsor of pro-industrial hemp legislation pending before the Michigan legislature.

Source: TheCompassionChronicles.Com


About Author

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.


  1. Roadside saliva drug testing is a practice that started in Australia and has now been introduced in the United States. Driving under the influence of any intoxicant is never a good idea however I feel this is simply another way of getting at casual marijuana users because you don’t necessarily have to be under the influence of marijuana to fail a roadside test because THC stays in the system for quite a long time depending on the frequency of use. What happens if someone who smoked a joint one week ago makes an illegal lane change and then gets subjected to a roadside saliva test? This process will never work. Learn more about saliva testing products that are designed for these types of situations: http://passdrugtestsfast.com/saliva-drug-test-products.html

  2. The science is going to have to be vetted very seriously if they are going to use this as evidence against people. And drug lab credibility it very low, with all the incompetence and scandals nationwide.

  3. This is why we need to fight our hardest to get our congress to legalizes at least at the medical level to prevent the zealots from pulling this. If like me as I am a republican its even more important.

  4. that’s BS the GOV will now an can place u at crime scene’s or even put u in JAIL an say u did something or committed a CRIME u didn’t commit,This needs to be fought an Protested’Its against our Constitutional RIGHTS!but this will continue until everyone grows a BACKBONE an stand up to this GOV BULLING!

  5. A saliva test for THC with the ability to detect metabolic byproducts for 72 hours after consumption does not have the ecological validity to yield credible results for any useful measures of impairment. Watch how fast this gets thrown out of court.

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