University of Texas researchers say they have been successful in creating a more useful THC saliva testing device.
In many jurisdictions around the world, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with any detectable level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in their bodies. This is problematic in that long after the intoxicating effects of THC have worn off, it may still be present. To this point, roadside saliva tests only detect if THC is present, not if the level is at a point where it could potentially impair driving ability.
But a hand-held rapid saliva test developed at University of Texas may be a game-changer. Its inventors claim the device can measure the level of THC with 94% accuracy and can also can distinguish between THC and CBD, reducing the chance of false positives. Beyond law enforcement, the device – called CannibiSenS – could help medical marijuana practitioners and patients determine the most effective dose.
“The CannibiSenS device has demonstrated the potential for serving the cannabis community in a manner akin to how glucose monitors help the diabetic community,” said Dr. Shalini Prasad, director of the Biomedical Microdevices and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University’s Department of Bioengineering.
Using CannibiSenS involves swabbing a saliva sample from inside the cheek, which is then gently dabbed onto the sensor surface or through the use of a dropper if the sample was collected earlier.
While there is no universal threshold for the amount of THC that causes impairment, there has been significant research on the issue. Where jurisdictions have set maximum thresholds, a test such as this could prove very useful both for law enforcement and end users as it can be difficult for users to monitor due to the potency of marijuana varying; particularly in flower. There are also ongoing quality issues in terms of labeling of various cannabis products containing THC.
A study concerning the device titled “CannibiSenS: an on-demand rapid screen for THC in human saliva” was published in the journal Analyst.
CannibiSenS was developed in collaboration with EnLiSense, which specialises in lifestyle-based sensors and devices. Among them is READ (Real-time ElectroAnalytical Diagnostics) which can be configured to provide evidence based clinical management for a broad spectrum of diseases.