New test in South Africa to help police and employers check for cannabis use

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A new test has been announced that could drastically improve the ability of law enforcement and employers to determine if people are under the influence of cannabis.

South Africa’s changing stance on marijuana

Testing of the substance has become quite complicated in South Africa after it was effectively made legal in the country.

In September 2018 the Constitutional Court ruled that the use, possession, or growth of cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home, for their own consumption, should no longer be considered a criminal offense.

This means that it is now legal for South Africans to be stoned in the comfort of their own homes but it is still illegal to drive your car while intoxicated or even smoke cannabis in a public place.

Up to this point, testing of cannabis has involved sending a urine sample to a lab for testing. While incredibly accurate, this method only really showed whether or not someone has consumed cannabis within the timeframe of about a month.

Existing cannabis testing methods no longer effective

With the use of cannabis now legal in the home, this left employers and law enforcement in a difficult position when it came to checking if someone was suspect of being stoned where they shouldn’t be.

“In terms of the law, somebody is entitled to smoke cannabis at home,” said attorney Craig Harvey told Independent Media.

“If you used it yesterday, you come to work, you shouldn’t be under the influence, but you’ll test positive (on a urine test).”

Craig Harvey

New test could make law enforcement more effective

The new test narrows that window significantly and can apparently detect whether the person in question has used cannabis within the last three hours, which is a pretty good timeframe because you almost certainly shouldn’t be driving a car within three hours of smoking weed.

“The saliva test shows if you used it in the last three hours. The saliva test is now the most accurate,” claims Harvey.

Craig Harvey

Harvey specialises in cases of personal cannabis use and is currently awaiting judgement in a trial in which his client was dismissed following a positive urine test for cannabis.

One of his expert witnesses in the case, Quinton van Kerken, owns the company who developed the new test.

“With cannabis, we’ve got about a three-hour window where it’s effective and you’re actually ‘stoned’. After that there’s nothing. It just happens to be in your system,” Van Kerken told IOL.

“How can something that you do legally in the comfort of your own home suddenly become illegal when you set foot into work?”

Quinton van Kerken

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