San Diego Police Department Implement Cannabis Oral Swab

This past week the San Diego police department received a donation from the San Diego Police Foundation. This donation included two Dräger DrugTest 5000 machines, which cost $6,000 each. These new drug testing devices will change the game, as they are able to confirm the presence of marijuana through a mouth-swab device. The Dräger DrugTest 5000 machine is currently being used in New York, Los Angeles, Nevada, Arizona, Australia, Belgium, and Germany. Its use is becoming more prevalent with the progression of the legalization of marijuana.  

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Dräger DrugTest 5000 Machine

The San Diego police department rolled out the machines last Friday night at the St. Patrick’s Day DUI checkpoint downtown. The machine can test for the presence of seven drugs - marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamine, methadone, and benzodiazepines. The reason that the San Diego police wanted to implement these devices was because marijuana “is a huge concern of ours with the legalization of marijuana that we’re going to see an increase in impaired drugged driving,” Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said. 

As of right now, the machine will be primarily used at DUI checkpoints. And like alcohol, drivers cannot be forced to submit to a test. But if the driver allows for a test, the officers who are trained to recognize the symptoms of impaired drivers will then hand the driver a mouth swab and instruct them to run it around their mouth for up to four minutes. The swab is then taken and put into the machine along with a testing solution, then six to eight minutes later, the results will be printed out. 

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An example of how the machine will work.

But not to be worried, the machine can only test for an active THC compound, which only exists in the human body for a few hours. And it does not detect inactive THC compounds, which could stay in a person’s body for weeks. So if someone legally smoked weed five days ago, it would show up negative on the machine.