Fair warning to all my foreign readers who are planning on visiting the Netherlands by car or likely to rent a car while on holiday. Beginning from the 1st of July 2017, Dutch police will have the option to submit drivers to a drug test that is capable of detecting traces of THC in their saliva. This news might sound scary, but is there actually cause for alarm? How does the test work? When and how are police going to use it? These are all good questions! Herbish Today went to out to find the answers.
Here are some things you should know about the new drug test;
- The new drug test is a saliva swab test that will help police determine, within a few minutes, if you have used cannabis in the last 14 hours. This is how long THC is detectable in saliva.
- The swab test can also detect cocaine, opioids, methamphetamines and GBH.
- After the swab test gives a positive reading, you will be subjected to a mandatory blood test, possibly in a different location, to determine the exact amount of THC in your bloodstream. Traces of THC can remain in the bloodstream for one or two days after consumption.
- It will take two weeks to receive the results of the blood test.
- The maximum amount of THC in the bloodstream will be limited to 1 microgram per litre or more. Whilst the limit of cocaine is 10 micrograms per litre. That of alcohol will be 0,2 milligrams per millilitre.
- The introduction of the test was originally planned for July 1st of 2015 but was postponed twice, due to unreliable test kits and high costs.
- Belgium has been using the saliva test since 2010. The number of fines and arrest there have doubled, since the introduction of the saliva test.
Check out this (cringe worthy) explanation vid about the saliva test:
Cannabis is not in the same league as alcohol
In the last 18 years, I have frequently driven a car while I had consumed cannabis before getting behind the wheel. In all that time I have never had an accident or other problems on the road, other than the occasional mild speeding ticket.
“To be honest, from all the information I have read, I am not too worried that I now have to avoid driving a car.”
Although I do not condone driving under the influence of any substance that impairs driving skills, like alcohol or drugs such as opioids and methamphetamines, I do not think we should consider cannabis to be in the same league as these substances. As it turns out, more and more research (PDF) is showing that the effects of cannabis are far less likely to cause accidents than, let’s say, alcohol. In other words, I’m not that worried about the correlation between cannabis and diminished driving skills. What does worry me, is the untrustworthiness and implications this new drug test brings to the table.
Should we be scared?
To be honest, from all the information I have read, I am not too worried that I now have to avoid taking the car. The main thing to remember is that the saliva test kit is expensive and time-consuming for the police to use in the field, on a large scale. So, I suspect the police are planning only to use these tests when they have probable cause or in large scale, pre-planned traffic stops.
Should we be angry?
But what If you do get pulled over and submitted to this saliva test? Seeing that the test is not very accurate, there is a chance you’ll get in trouble even if you didn’t consume cannabis before getting behind the wheel. And then what? After the initial swab test says you have THC in your saliva, you will have to comply with the mandatory blood test. This test will probably take place in a different location. The result of this blood test will take two weeks to come back, does that mean you can’t drive your car in the meantime? Probably. I haven’t found any official statements for the Department of Justice about these questions, so until the tests will be officially in use, I can only speculate.
It is safe to say that this is yet another tool for the anti-cannabis lobby to pester cannabis users to get in line and do as they say, or else! Even if it turns out the THC levels in your bloodstream where below the allowed limit, you’ll be in the system. By then you’ll have wasted a lot of your holiday, dealing with the aftermath of the initial saliva test.
I hope you won’t be freaked out by this article, that wasn’t the point of the story. I just wanted to give you guys a heads-up. Fair warning and plan accordingly.