There’s a little controversy floating around in Michigan right now about the reliability of a newly implemented roadside saliva test. The Michigan State Police have begun to swab motorists suspected of being under the influence with the Alere DDS2, a portable device which uses mouth swabs and digital chemical analysis to detect narcotics such as cannabis and opiates.
The program is in a sort of pilot stage now, being tried out in five Michigan counties.
But not everyone is to happy about it. Attorney Michael Kormon, president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association is concerned about the accuracy of these tests, particularly as it pertains to law-abiding patients who use forms of cannabis for medical treatment, not intoxication.
He told the South Bend Tribune that he hopes to challenge the oral fluid test in court. “Until then, we got a bunch of Michigan citizens in these five counties that are going to be guinea pigs to this process,” he said.
“Nobody should be compelled to take this test until we’ve got some confirmation that it is an accurate test,” Komorn said. “That’s basic fundamental liberty and freedom, that government shouldn’t be able to subject individuals to tests.”
Unlike with alcohol, there is no real consensus yet on what level of cannabinoids amounts to impairment in drivers. In Michigan, the law for THC is zero tolerance, unless the driver is a medical marijuana patient, and then the threshold is one nanogram.
Michigan’s Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis was implemented to combat a rise in fatal car crashes involving drivers on drugs. In 2016, the state experienced a 32 percent increase of fatal crashes over the year before.
“There are different things going on in Michigan,” Michigan State Police Special First Lt. Jim Flegel told the tribune. “One is the opioid epidemic. Another is the number of medical marijuana cardholders that could potentially be driving while impaired on marijuana.”
In one year, the state police will report to the Legislature on the program’s accuracy. If deemed effective, it could be rolled out wider in the state.
Photo via Flickr user Richard Bauer