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In new era, cannabis testing a mixed bag

From CAP Today:

The legal use of marijuana has evolved over the last several years.  Ten years ago, California passed the nation’s first law that permitted patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.  Today, 25 states have legalized medical marijuana.  In addition, 4 states as well as Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Currently, marijuana is the most popular recreational drug in the United States.  Dr. Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D., serves as a Senior Scientific Advisor to NMS Labs and is working to research the long-term impact of the wider access to marijuana.  Essentially, the legal climate surrounding marijuana is changing the methods and usage patterns of marijuana (cannabis) testing in the laboratory.  As a market leader, NMS continues to expand its offerings to meet the demand for cannabis testing. 

Because cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, it is a very complex drug to test.  In addition, the emerging regulations for judging impairment are currently evolving.  According to Dr. Huestis, impairment should be measured and linked to the actual time of cannabis usage.  For instance, occasional smokers may ingest very low doses of the marijuana psychoactive ingredient THC, which can have little effect.  However, a chronic smoker can potentially have traces of THC in their system 30 days after they’ve used cannabis.  Therefore, identifying a marker that measures the recent cannabis usage is more effective at measuring impairment as opposed to overall usage.  In her research, Dr. Huestis has sited cannabigerol and cannabinol has the markers to measure whether someone has recently used marijuana.  NMS Labs is currently developing a method including these 2 cannabinoids.

Dr. Huestis also states that there are serval advantages to use oral fluid testing to test for recent cannabis usage.  When someone smokes or eats editable cannabis it gets into the oral mucosa and saliva, which indicates that the person actually took the drug as oppose to be exposed to it.  Oral fluid testing offers a reduction in specimen collection errors, and it’s easier to reduce the adulteration that is high in urine testing because it’s an observed sample.  In addition, oral fluid testing is easier to navigate in an emergency situation because you don’t have to catheterize them after suffering from trauma.  

Training for oral fluid testing is also significant to the process.  While it is much easier to train someone to take oral specimens as opposed to blood, they still have to know what they’re doing.  Dr. Huestis predicts that oral fluid will become very prominent and will be a major focus for laboratories when conducting cannabis testing.  It is predicted that hospitals and clinical laboratories will enter the oral fluid market in the near future.  Oral fluid testing is also predicted to become a prominent in postmortem autopsy cases. 

In terms of laboratory offerings, Dr. Huestis advocates testing for markers of recent cannabis use to help interpret results as opposed to simply testing for blood cannabinoids and THC.  As the market for medical marijuana grows, she also predicts that labs will start doing therapeutic drug monitoring to test the concentrations of THC to interpret marijuana’s therapeutic range. 

NMS Labs continues to be at the forefront of the cannabis testing. 

For more information cannabis testing as well as any additional NMS Labs products and services, please call 1-866-522-2216 to chat directly with our experts.

Posted: 2/23/2017 10:40:00 AM

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