San Diego DUI Law Center

THC Field Testing

The Need for THC Testing

The ongoing trend of the legalization of marijuana throughout the nation, has resulted in an increase in the number of drug related DUIs in comparison to alcohol related DUIs. The increase in marijuana related DUIs has put pressure and demand for field/onsite testing devices for Marijuana/THC.

Some states have already adapted to these pressures, after seeing the statistical data highlighting the increase in marijuana related DUIs.

Another one of the main reasons why there has been such a push for THC field testing devices is distinguishability. Until recently, no field device was available that could distinguish just how much THC a cannabis product possessed. This was leading to instances where hemp could not be distinguished from marijuana.

A THC field testing kit will ultimately enable law enforcement to determine if hemp or marijuana is a factor, in a timely and cost-efficient manner.


Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are extremely similar. The THC level is what distinguishes between the two. In the United States, at a federal level, hemp is legal while marijuana isn’t. This is where field testing comes into use. Field tests are able to determine if a cannabis sample has THC.

“Hemp” is the term for cannabis that contains 0.3 percent or less THC content by dry weight. With such a low level of THC, Hemp is considered legal due to the lower chances of a high on consumption.

“Marijuana” legally refers to cannabis that has more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. However, THC content can vary amongst various cannabis plants.


Types of Field Tests Available

  1. Drug Test 5000 (Drager)
  2. So Toxa Mobile Test System (Abbot)
  3. Drug Wipe S (Alcohol Countermeasure Systems)
  4. The Device (mLife)

As demand increases for THC field testing, more and more devices are starting to surface. A team of researchers, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the Swanson School of Engineering, recently developed a breathalyzer device that measures the amount of marijuana in a user’s breath. Hemp Synergistics LLC, has also added to the THC Field testing device development world. Partnered with Perdue University Northwest, they have developed a THC Rapid Field Test Kit that can distinguish hemp from marijuana, in the field, in less than 5 minutes.

These are just a few examples of the current THC field testing devices available and being used in the field. Tests like the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the One Leg Stand Test, and the Walk and Turn Test are still being utilized in the field as they are working to implement improved techniques and devices.


California Marijuana DUI

In 2020, California began to administer the Saliva Drug Swab Test in the field. This is roughly an eight-minute test that uses a person’s saliva to detect for THC amongst other drugs in a DUI situation. This test works by detecting trace amounts of drugs in California driver’s saliva. While these types of tests are currently. Being utilized in California, they are not considered 100% reliable because it is capable of tracing THC amounts in saliva 3 days after consumption.

If you find yourself in a situation involving a marijuana DUI, you are advised to contact a DUI specialist at your earliest convivence. In San Diego County, Rick Mueller, a California DUI Lawyers Association Specialist, has a proven track record of success with marijuana and alcohol related DUIs.


THC Field Testing

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