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Saliva test could mean cops testing for cannabis at road blocks

This drug test can tell if you’re currently high

Could cops soon be stopping us at road blocks to test if we’re driving while stoned? 

Until now, this has been impossible, and provincial traffic services have even admitted that they don’t do any routine drug testing at road blocks. But a new testing technology could change that.

Get a lick of this

There’s a new saliva test on the market that can detect THC metabolites in spit, and a positive result means the person has smoked within the past three hours.

Drug testing expert (and host on DQ Central Show) Quinton van Kerken said this new saliva test is able to detect cannabis while it’s still actively affecting your body.

“With cannabis, we’ve got about a three hour window where it’s effective and you’re actually ‘stoned’. After that there’s nothing. It just happens to be in your system,” Quinton said.

The only test for weed that’s currently commonly used is the urine test, which is hugely inaccurate because it can only tell if you’ve had cannabis anytime within the past month. Obviously, that’s no indication that you’re currently stoned or impaired in any way.

Heads up

It’s not a crime to grow and smoke in the privacy of your own home, but if you then drive on dope, that’s still currently an offense. Arrive Alive says it’s “still illegal to drive on a public road or occupy a driver’s seat of a motor vehicle, the engine of which is running, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect”.

Government demonising dagga

Local weed activists Myrtle Clarke and Julian Stobbs, better known as the Dagga Couple, say that using a saliva test will be just another method for police to criminalise cannabis users.

“A saliva test is still a pipe dream for authorities worldwide,” Julian said. “There’s still no effective way of proving cannabis impairment and serious government money is being spent globally to develop the weed test holy grail. It’s just another way governments are intent on keeping cannabis users criminalised.”

But wait, there’s an upside

Saliva tests may be a tool for cops looking to criminalise cannabis users, but it’s a fantastic weapon for smokers who are targeted by drug testing at work.

Attorney Craig Harvey has been fighting on behalf of clients who have been fired from their jobs after testing positive on a urine test – even though they’re not stoned at work.

“In terms of the law, somebody is entitled to smoke cannabis at home,” Craig said. “If you used it yesterday, you come to work, you shouldn’t be under the influence anymore, but you’ll test positive (on a urine test).”

Quinton said this test could make it possible for employers to ensure their workers in high-risk environments are sober – but without infringing on their rights to use cannabis away from work.

“What is wrong with me using cannabis in the privacy of my own home at night or on the weekend?” he said. “All of a sudden I’m getting fired from work because I’m testing positive three days later. I’m not stoned.”

Future use

The saliva test isn’t currently being used by any authorities in SA – but it could be in future. The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works said: 

“The Department has heard about this technology and we understand it is still in its development phase. The technology has not been finalised. We are however monitoring the space and when settled, we will look at getting it approved in South Africa.

Zootly says: As we move towards (hopefully) more legalisation for cannabis in South Africa, we’re all for playing it clean with the law. Don’t dope and drive!

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