On behalf of Law Offices of Kathleen G. Alvarado posted in blog on Friday, February 2, 2018.

We all know that field sobriety and blood tests can be used to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But are there tests that police can use to determine cannabis impairment?

In other words, can the police tell if you’re high?

Police say THC tests are in the works

The Los Angeles Police Department says that they are testing a device that can detect THC in saliva. Their goal is to equip every squad car with the devices once they have finished experimenting in a year or two.

But so far it is proving to be more difficult than originally thought. None of these tests have been able to give law enforcement meaningful results that lead them any closer to determining if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

Testing for cannabis is different from alcohol

Alcohol absorbs into the bloodstream and bodily fluids because it is water-soluble. This is why devices that detect blood alcohol content are used to prove that a driver is intoxicated.

On the other hand, pot is fat-soluble. It metabolizes in the body differently than alcohol. By the time any sort of breath test is conducted, THC in the bloodstream will more than likely have reached undetectable levels because of its quick dissipation.

Furthermore, no device has that we know of can definitely determine when the cannabis was consumed.

Establishing a legal limit poses challenges

But let’s say that there was a way to tell if a driver is high. What would the chemical threshold be? The chemical threshold for one individual can be different from another and doesn’t conclusively prove impairment. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Congress that the establishment of THC thresholds for impairment “is not meaningful” in July. The statement has left many people doubtful about the reliability of tests if they are created in the future.

To answer the question it doesn’t appear that California police have created reliable tests that prove a driver is high. But that doesn’t mean that cannabis-detecting devices won’t be developed in the future. To avoid finding yourself in a sticky situation, it is important to know your limits and recognize when it may be best to stay off the road.