Frequently asked questions

Why would you consider inclusion of oral fluid as a drug test sample in your workplace?
  • Targets recent use
  • High cost of employee disciplinary or dismissal from a urine drug test which cant discriminate Cannabis recent use and likely impairment
  • Employee and union demand for a fair and reasonable drug test
  • less invasive
  • Less potential for cheating
  • No requirement for bathroom facility
  • Potential Cannabis law reform
  • No subjective drug screen interpretation-Oral fluid drug testing portable analyser systems uses sophisticated optics

Oral fluid testing and new New Zealand Standards for Oral Fluid Testing is specifically directed at the detection and quantitation of drugs in oral fluid recently used – and cutoff levels target the acute impairment period.

Currently Australian and New Zealand workplaces across multiple safety critical industries can and do utilise AS/NZS4760:2019 to guide their oral fluid drug testing programme.

Why would you consider inclusion of urine as a drug test sample in your workplace?

Urine as a sample for drug testing is the most common sample used as a testing medium for drugs in New Zealand workplaces largely due to the following:

  • There is a joint Australian New Zealand Standard
  • Lower cost per test than oral fluid
  • Two confirmatory testing laboratories accessible in New Zealand
  • Preferred for pre-employment drug testing as it identifies habitual and recent users
  • Well understood and established use in New Zealand

Urine drug testing is a well-established practice in today’s workplaces as a part of a Drug and Alcohol Policy, with many independent providers of testing services available throughout New Zealand. InScience proudly supplies and supports many of these service providers. Urine drug testing is well understood, mainstream, reasonably economical and well served by Australian New Zealand Standards AS/NZS4308:2008 and accredited laboratory confirmatory testing services, ESR and CHL.

InScience supply and support workplaces and individuals keen to do a more DIY approach to drug testing. InScience can provide training (NZQA Unit Standards), AS/NZS4308:2008 and AS/NZS4760:2019 compliant products for onsite testing, drug and alcohol policy and procedures, along with expert ongoing advice.

What does recent use mean for Cannabis users?

For the drug Cannabis, a user is acutely impaired for 4-6 hours after use. The level of THC drug that is likely at the 6-8 hour time after use was determined as 10-15ng/ml in saliva . The AS/NZS4760 set the cutoff concentration for use by the Workplace drugscreen at 15ng/ml equivalent to approx 8 hours post use.

How were the AS/NZS4760:2019 drug cutoff concentrations determined?

When the AS/NZS4760:2019 was under revision the aim to target recent use was adopted and linked with researched credible international studies of how long after use of a drug a person was likely impaired or affected. For the drug Methamphetamine(P), a user is acutely impaired for up to 50 hours according to that research conducted . The level of Methamphetamine drug that is likely at the 50 hours time after last use was determined as 50 ng/ml in saliva.

Can Urine drug testing target recent use?

Not for Cannabis.The most difficult drug to screen for in urine and link to recent use or any relevancy to acute impairment is THC/Cannabis metabolite. The reason for this is that it is a fat soluble drug unlike the other drugs in the classic suite of drugs screened in a workplace. THC is not excreted from the users fat cells until it is “metabolised” (using up stored fat) then THC metabolites are able to be more easily excreted into the body fluids and passed out through urine. This can take up to 28 days to be excreting less than the cutoff concentration of THC Metabolites. During that 28 day period it is not having any “ acute impairment” on the persons.

What does a negative drug test result mean?

A negative drug screen or a confirmed negative drug result from a Laboratory means that the specimen tested did not contain the drug class or compound at or above the cutoff concentration applied. This does not mean the specimen/sample was “drug free” for that tested or any other drug

Is accreditation mandatory to comply with NZ Standards?

No, not mandated for workplace/on-site drug and alcohol screening. Drug screen results generated by a qualified collector using a verified device and collected and processed in compliance with the Standards requirements are just as robust as those generated by an accredited service provider.

Yes, for a laboratory reporting in compliance with Australian and New Zealand standards.

What is verified and compliant mean?

The Australian and New Zealand Standards for urine drug screening and Oral fluid(saliva) drug screening require any on site screen device or system you use or employ in onsite drug screening to be independently verified as compliant so a device cannot claim compliance with out a verification proof from an accredited laboratory independent of the manufacturer and in that verification must be conducted in accordance with Appendix C for oral fluids and appendix B for Urine. This must be available and cited by all parties to the testing such as the employer, employee, supervisor of testing, Tester and test subject.

What are swab tests?

Oral fluid drug testing onsite is often refered to as a saliva drug test or Swab test as it involves taking a sample of saliva from the mouth. The Older less sensitive test collection part of a saliva drug test was often a swab however the crushable, sponge type of swab has inherent issues with poor transfer or losing drug in transfer of the sample to the test system rendering it insensitive and inaccurate. Draeger have a solid porous collector/filter which doesn’t collapse trapping drug and sample and this acts as the collector and  releases the sample and any drug collected very efficiently with the addition of a buffer. This buffer elutes the sample onto the test device and adds to the sensitivity and accuracy the DT5000 and DC3000 has been proven to achieve.

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    Dear Ms. Swarbrick,

    RE: The efficacy of cannabis testing using oral fluid samples

    As an individual deeply involved in drug and alcohol impairment detection, I was surprised and very disappointed in the views you expressed during your recent interview with Jack Tame on the topic of cannabis law reform.