Oral Fluid – Quick Facts About California and State of Washington Drug Testing for Marijuana

None of this below applies currently to DOT drug testing. Approval for oral fluid drug testing for DOT is still pending for two labs to be certified by SAMHSA and an approved collection device. See: DOT Oral Fluid Drug Testing, Collections & Mocks

Non-Regulated Oral Fluid Drug Testing

When doing oral fluid drug testing, oral fluid primarily contains the parent drug – Delta 9 THC. When testing detects a metabolite, this is not an impairing substance – it is a Non-psychoactive form typically urine or hair specimens.

Parent THC – Delta-9 is the psychoactive form detected in blood, breath and oral fluid. THC metabolites detected in urine or hair specimens are the Non-psychoactive form.

California and Washington are both unique in workplace drug testing laws regarding marijuana testing with the recent changes effective Jan 1, 2024. In these states the laws are protecting employees who use marijuana on their own time.

Marijuana drug testing with urine or hair is not prohibited but employee discrimination is prohibited. So, it is recommended to not use urine or hair testing. Taking action on a positive marijuana test result with urine or hair specimens would be prohibited.

California

Discrimination against applicants or existing employees is prohibited based on testing found to have non- psychoactive metabolites. Exceptions are for workers in the building and construction industry, DOT regulated positions and for job applicants and employees in positions that require a federal background investigation or clearance.

Washington

Discrimination against applicants is prohibited based on testing found to have non- psychoactive metabolites. Washington has more exceptions then California particularly for individuals applying for positions that necessitate a federal background investigation or security clearance, specific public safety roles, DOT regulated positions or certain safety-sensitive positions that have been previously designated by the employer.

Instant Oral Fluid Drug Testing

  • THC is very complex so there are difficulties with instant oral fluid drug testing. THC has many compounds and instant testing may be detecting compounds other than Delta 9 THC.
  • Lab based testing with both screening and confirmation can detect the specific THC Delta 9 parent drug.

Window of Detection

With urine the person is no longer high once the metabolites are detected. With oral fluid the detection time is 3 to 10 hours from ingestion. A blood test window of detection is just a couple of hours, perhaps 2 – 3 hours.

Oral Fluid Testing Features:

  • Detects recent use
  • Covers the entire window of impairment for marijuana use
  • Easy to administer
  • Virtually eliminates drug test cheating


Oral fluid drug testing, also known as saliva drug testing, is a method used to detect the presence of drugs in a person’s system through their saliva. This type of drug testing is becoming increasingly popular due to its non-invasive nature and ease of use. Oral fluid drug testing can detect a wide range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids.

The process involves collecting a saliva sample from the individual and testing it at a lab for the presence of drugs. Results are typically available within a short period of time, making oral fluid drug testing a convenient option for many businesses and organizations. Overall, oral fluid drug testing is a reliable and effective method for detecting drug use and promoting a safe and drug-free environment.

Learn More about Oral Fluid Drug Testing

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