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Will Mouth Swab Tests Become the “Breathalyzer” of Marijuana?

Some police officers in Michigan are testing out a way to determine if drivers are high on pot when pulled over. In November, CBS Detroit reported that drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs could be pulled over by police as part of a new roadside drug test in five separate Michigan counties.

Mouth Swab Tests Being Used to Determine Recent Drug Use

Those suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis in participating Michigan counties will now be given mouth swab tests, a practice that is already undergoing a three-year pilot program in Colorado.  

Michigan State Police report that drugged driving fatalities increased 32 percent in 2015-2016. By taking mouth swab tests, police can detect recent drug use, including cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and other illegal drugs. Where traditional breathalyzer and blood tests might pick up illegal drug use up to a month prior, a mouth swab test can determine if a drug was taken that very same day.

California enacted a similar program last summer. Drivers in California must follow a marijuana open container law. Weed must be sealed in an unopened container. If its open, it must be stored in the trunk. Police in California that find an open container of weed in your car (or a roach in the ashtray), now have the ability to use a mouth swab test to determine if they believe you’re too high to drive.

Will Mouth Swab Tests Become Standard in Legal Marijuana States?

As cannabis legalization continues to sweep the country, countless cities and counties across the nation are trying to determine the best ways to test for drugged drivers. Cases in legal cannabis states have been dismissed due to the fact that THC can stay in a person’s system for up to a month, with urine and blood tests giving inconclusive results.

Law officials are hoping mouth swab tests can put an end to the confusion. With a test that isolates a specific cannabis compound that breaks down after hours of ingestion (not weeks), mouth swab tests could very likely become the new “breathalyzer” of cannabis consumption.

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